Groups settle in lawsuit against HHS contraceptive mandate

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington stand near the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 when the high court heard oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell. (CNS/Reuters)

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington stand near the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 when the high court heard oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell. (CNS/Reuters)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Dozens of Catholic groups that challenged the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act have reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, they announced late Oct. 16.

The groups, including the Archdiocese of Washington and the Pennsylvania dioceses of Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Erie, were represented by the Cleveland-based law firm Jones Day.

Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl wrote an Oct. 16 letter to archdiocesan priests saying the “binding agreement” ends the litigation challenging the Health and Human Services’ mandate and provides a “level of assurance as we move into the future.” Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Senate confirms Callista Gingrich as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See

Callista Gingrich is seen at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington July 18. (CNS/Reuters)

Callista Gingrich is seen at a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in Washington July 18. (CNS/Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Senate confirmed Callista Gingrich as the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

Voting late Oct. 16, senators approved her nomination 70-23. More than 20 Democrats joined Republicans in supporting Gingrich, the wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a vocal ally of President Donald Trump.

Gingrich, 51, a lifelong Catholic and a former congressional aide, has been president of Gingrich Productions, a multimedia production and consulting company in Arlington, Virginia, since 2007.

She was expected to present her credentials at the Vatican in the coming weeks.

Gingrich’s associates welcomed the vote. Among them was Msgr. Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, where Gingrich has been a longtime member of the choir. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

In Holy Land, Franciscan finds peace in prayer, ministering to pilgrims

Franciscan Father Wladyslaw Brzezinski blesses Ursula Napierkowski of St. Paul's Parish in Kensington, Conn., inside the Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem. Father Brzezinski has been superior at the church for the past 10 years. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

Franciscan Father Wladyslaw Brzezinski blesses Ursula Napierkowski of St. Paul’s Parish in Kensington, Conn., inside the Church of the Visitation in Jerusalem. Father Brzezinski has been superior at the church for the past 10 years. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

(Editor’s Note: This month, the Franciscans celebrate 800 years of their presence in the Holy Land.)

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM (CNS) — On his first pilgrimage to the Holy Land just at the outbreak of the intifada, Franciscan Father Wladyslaw Brzezinski was awed by the quiet contemplation with which a fellow friar was able to pray under a sprawling sabra cactus in the courtyard of the Church of the Visitation.

Little did he know that his life’s path would eventually lead him back to this Franciscan shrine which, according to Christian tradition, marks the home of Elizabeth and Zachariah and commemorates the meeting between Mary her cousin, Elizabeth, when Mary recited the Magnificat as Elizabeth announced she was pregnant.

Father Brzezinski, who wanted to be sent as a missionary to Africa, followed his vow of obedience and remained in Poland. In 2003, his superiors sent him to the Holy Land, where the Franciscan custos and his staff serve as guardians of the Catholic holy places and welcome pilgrims. Continue reading

Posted in World

Pope on interviews: Church must listen, respond to people’s questions

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Yerevan, Armenia, to Rome last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Yerevan, Armenia, to Rome last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Replying to questions and giving interviews are a “pastoral risk” Pope Francis said he is prepared to take, because it is the best way to know and respond to people’s real concerns.

“I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I want to take,” the pope wrote in the introduction to a new book collecting transcripts of question-and-answer sessions he has held all over the world.

The collection in Italian, “Adesso Fate le Vostre Domande” (“Now, Ask Your Questions”), was edited by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and scheduled for release Oct. 19. The pope’s introduction was published Oct. 17 in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

To fight hunger and forced migration, end war, arms trade, pope says

Pope Francis speaks during a visit to the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization Oct. 16. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks during a visit to the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization Oct. 16. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — It makes no sense to lament the problems of hunger and forced migration if one is unwilling to address their root causes, which are conflict and climate change, Pope Francis said.

“War and climate change lead to hunger; therefore, let’s avoid presenting it as if it were an incurable disease,” and instead implement laws, economic policies, lifestyle changes and attitudes that prevent the problems in the first place, he told world leaders at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Pope Francis received a standing ovation after he addressed the assembly at FAO’s Rome headquarters to mark World Food Day Oct. 16, the date the organization was founded in 1945 to address the causes of poverty and hunger. The FAO was holding a conference on the theme “Changing the future of migration.” Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Pope announces Synod of Bishops dedicated to people in Amazon

An indigenous member of the Desano ethnic group handles a camera during a meeting in Mitu, Colombia, last year. (CNS/EPA)

An indigenous member of the Desano ethnic group handles a camera during a meeting in Mitu, Colombia, last year. (CNS/EPA)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Addressing the challenges of evangelization in one of the world’s most remote areas and the connection between faith and environmental concern, Pope Francis announced a special gathering of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the Amazon region.

“Accepting the wish of several episcopal conferences of Latin America as well as the voice of pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, which will take place in Rome in October 2019,” Pope Francis announced Oct. 15.

Speaking at the end of a Mass in St. Peter’s Square, the pope said the synod would seek to identify new paths of evangelization, especially for indigenous people who are “often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future, including because of the crisis of the Amazon forest,” which plays a vital role in the environmental health of the entire planet. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Christian life is a love story with God, pope says at canonization

Liliana Ayala Leonel from the Archdiocese of Tijuana, Mexico, wears a shirt with an image of the "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala" before the canonization Mass of new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 15. The pope canonized groups of martyrs from Mexico and Brazil, an Italian Capuchin priest and a Spanish priest. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Liliana Ayala Leonel from the Archdiocese of Tijuana, Mexico, wears a shirt with an image of the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala” before the canonization Mass of new saints celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 15. The pope canonized groups of martyrs from Mexico and Brazil, an Italian Capuchin priest and a Spanish priest. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like the Catholic Church’s newest saints, Christians are called to live their faith as a love story with God who wants a relationship that is “more than that of devoted subjects with their king,” Pope Francis said.

Without a loving relationship with God, Christian life can become empty and “an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason,” the pope said during Mass Oct. 15 in St. Peter’s Square.

“This is the danger: a Christian life that becomes routine, content with ‘normality,’ without drive or enthusiasm, and with a short memory,” he said during the Mass.

At the beginning of the Mass, Pope Francis proclaimed 35 new saints, including: the “Martyrs of Natal,” Brazil, a group of 30 priests, laymen, women and children who were killed in 1645 during a wave of anti-Catholic persecution; and the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala,” three children who were among Mexico’s first native converts and were killed for refusing to renounce the faith. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican