Feast of Immaculate Conception does not get weekend dispensation

Mosaic tiles depicting the Immaculate Conception and various saints are seen in the Trinity Dome at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated Dec. 8. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Just last year, Catholics were required to attend separate Masses two days in a row for the Sunday obligation and Monday’s Christmas Mass. Now, they have a similar opportunity this year with the feast of the Immaculate Conception falling on a Saturday — Dec. 8.

The vigil Mass on Saturday evening is not a “two-for-one” Mass for both days.

Last year, the U.S. bishops gave Catholics a heads-up about the back-to-back Sunday and Christmas liturgies 10 months in advance in a newsletter issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship. It also referenced what would occur this year and will recur when Dec. 8 falls on a Monday.

The newsletter specifically noted that the Saturday vigil does not count for both the holy day and Sunday in the very rare circumstances when two of the church’s six holy days of obligation — the feast of the Immaculate Conception or Christmas — fall the day before or after Sunday.

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Posted in U.S.

Deacon: From wildfires come acts of kindness for those trying to recover

Jim Collins, right, and Greg Wright are pictured with new backpacks that arrived Nov. 29 for fellow parishioners at St. Thomas More Parish in Paradise, Calif., where 640 of 800 community members lost their homes in the Camp Fire in early November. The packs filled with toiletries, warm clothes and small luxuries were donated by Deacon Dominic Peloso and his wife, Mary Ann Peloso, of the Church of the Nativity in Menlo Park, Calif., and included $9,000 in gift cards. (CNS photo/Christina Gray, Catholic San Francisco)

By Christina Gray 
Catholic News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Deacon Ray Helgeson left his home in Paradise on the morning of Nov. 8 with his wife, Donna, for daily Mass at the close-knit Butte County town’s only Catholic church. They never arrived.

On the short drive to St. Thomas More Church, where the deacon assists at Mass and heads the parish’s adult faith formation program, the Helgesons saw billowing smoke and a nearby peak in flames. They continued warily in the direction of the church but were soon intercepted by emergency crews, who diverted them from what would become California’s most destructive wildland fire.

The Camp Fire burned more than 153,000 acres, destroyed more than 14,000 homes and caused 85 fatalities, with several people still reported missing as of Dec. 6.

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Posted in U.S.

Pope revamps Vatican City State structures, laws to boost oversight

The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican is framed by trees. (CNS file photo/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz and Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis approved a new set of laws concerning the structure and governance of Vatican City State in an effort to simplify the many offices and activities of the world’s smallest nation and to boost oversight, transparency and budgetary controls.

The measures, issued “motu proprio,” on the pope’s own accord, were published Dec. 6.

In his letter, the pope said the reorganization was necessary to make it “suitable to current needs” while ensuring its mission to serve the pope and the specific aims of the departments and activities within Vatican City State.

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Posted in Vatican

A life built on trust in God is built on solid ground, pope says

Pope Francis celebrates morning Mass in the chapel of his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, at the Vatican Dec. 6. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are not people of faith in name only, Pope Francis said; they trust in God, base their lives on his truth and seek to act on the teachings of Jesus.

People with faith in God have not put their hope only in words or in “vanity, pride, in the fleeting powers of life,” he said. They put their hopes on solid ground — the Lord, he said in his homily Dec. 6 during morning Mass at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus tells his disciples that those who act on his teachings will have built their house on solid rock, while those who only listen to his word and do not act will be fools with a vulnerable house built on sand.

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Posted in Vatican

Pope to make historic visit to United Arab Emirates in February

This is the logo for Pope Francis’ trip to the United Arab Emirates Feb. 3-5, 2019. The pope is scheduled to attend an interfaith meeting in the United Arab Emirates on “Human Fraternity.” (CNS photo/Holy See Press Office)

Updated.

By Junno Arocho Esteves 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will visit the United Arab Emirates next year, becoming the first pope to visit the Arabian Peninsula, the Vatican announced.

In a Dec. 6 statement, the Vatican said the pope will “participate in the International Interfaith Meeting on ‘Human Fraternity'” after receiving an invitation by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.

“The visit will take place also in response to the invitation of the Catholic Church in the United Arab Emirates,” the Vatican said.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Bustling port city has packed agenda for week before World Youth Day

A street musician performs as World Youth Day volunteers pose April 24 in Colon, Panama. Volunteers from San Jose Parish pictured in back are Miguel Pinilla, 25, Joan Berrio, 29, Yarlene Allen, 24, and Yitzhak Gonzalez, 26. In front are Neyci Romero, 24, and Yeison Sanchez, 24. World Youth Day 2019 will be celebrated Jan. 22-27 in Panama City. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Manuel Rueda 
Catholic News Service

COLON, Panama (CNS) — At the entrance to the Panama Canal, the city of Colon is bursting with commerce. Its duty-free zone is the largest in Central America, and its port facilities handle 2.9 million containers of goods each year.

But in January, Colon also will be teeming with spiritual activity. The city of 250,000 is one of the most active participants in Days in the Dioceses, the week set aside for World Youth Day pilgrims to interact with local parishes.

Colon, an hour’s drive from Panama’s capital, hopes to host 15,000 pilgrims Jan. 14-20. The diocese has a full week of activities set up for pilgrims who choose to make it their base.

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Posted in Vatican

Woman who once assisted with abortions to address March for Life Jan. 18

Abby Johnson, who early in her career assisted in carrying out abortions, will be among the speakers during the 2019 March for Life rally Jan. 18 on the National Mall in Washington. She is pictured in a 2011 photo. (CNS photo/Jose Luis Aguirre, Catholic San Francisco)

By Dennis Sadowski 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Abby Johnson, who early in her career assisted in carrying out abortions, will be among the speakers during the 2019 March for Life rally Jan. 18 on the National Mall in Washington.

Johnson, a one-time Planned Parenthood clinic director, is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that assists abortion clinic workers who have left their position.

“Unique From Day One: Pro-Life Is Pro-Science” is the theme of the 2019 march, Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, said during a media briefing Dec. 5 in Washington.

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Posted in U.S.