Gregorian chant called seminarian to Catholicism

Members of the Schola Cantorum sing Gregorian chant during an Oct. 8 Latin Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Gregorian chant is the singing of the liturgy and its texts are almost entirely scriptural. (CNS/Chaz Muth)

Members of the Schola Cantorum sing Gregorian chant during an Oct. 8 Latin Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Gregorian chant is the singing of the liturgy and its texts are almost entirely scriptural. (CNS/Chaz Muth)

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As Gabe Bouck enters Advent, a season in which Catholics are urged to answer God’s call for conversion, the seminarian is reminded of the melodic voice that inspired him to become Catholic.

The former Baptist recalled attending his first Mass nearly six years ago where he encountered sounds he had never before heard in a church and it was coming from the priest.

“The priest sung the entire Mass,” said Bouck, a first-year seminarian at Theological College, a national seminary at  The Catholic University of America in Washington.

This priest sang the liturgy in ethereal tones, mysterious sounds to the young Protestant with a musical background. He was used to music that came in more predictable forms with standard rhyme or meter. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Bishop lays out detailed policies for ‘morally acceptable’ tax reform

Graduate students rally against the proposed federal tax reform bill Nov. 29 in New York City. (CNS/Reuters)

Graduate students rally against the proposed federal tax reform bill Nov. 29 in New York City. (CNS/Reuters)

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a new letter to members of Congress, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, outlined a sweeping package of changes in pending tax reform legislation to ensure the final bill is “morally acceptable.”

Bishop Dewane, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, also addressed positive aspects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which members of both houses of Congress continued to hash out Dec. 6 to reconcile their respective measures for a final bill.

A vote on a final version was expected in the House of Representatives and the Senate before Christmas.

Bishop Dewane in his Dec. 6 letter reminded Congress that the country has long followed tax policy “that is good for workers, families who welcome life, families who are struggling to reach — or stay in — the middle class, and the very poor, (and) has been part of our tax code for years.” Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Mideast Christian leaders to Trump: Jerusalem move could have dire results

The gold-covered Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount complex is seen in this overview of Jerusalem's Old City Dec. 6. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

The gold-covered Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount complex is seen in this overview of Jerusalem’s Old City Dec. 6. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

(Updated Dec. 7)

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM (CNS) — In an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, Christian leaders in Jerusalem said U.S. recognition of the city as the capital of Israel could have dire regional consequences.

“We have been following, with concern, the reports about the possibility of changing how the United States understands and deals with the status of Jerusalem. We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division,” the Christian leaders said, just hours before Trump made his announcement on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital and relocating the U.S. embassy.

They appealed to Trump to take their viewpoint into consideration, as did the leaders who met at Camp David in July 2000 to decide the status of Jerusalem. The Christian leaders said their “solemn advice and plea” for the president was to continue recognizing the international status of Jerusalem.

“We ask you, Mr. President, to help us all walk toward more love and a definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all,” they said Dec. 6. Continue reading

Posted in World

Indiana town embodies Santa Claus and his spirit of love, peace, joy

Young parishioners shake hands Dec. 2 with an actor portraying St. Nicholas, the namesake of their church. St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Santa Claus, Ind., hosted the visit from "St. Nick" ahead of the saint's feast day Dec. 6. (CNS/Katie Rutter)

Young parishioners shake hands Dec. 2 with an actor portraying St. Nicholas, the namesake of their church. St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Santa Claus, Ind., hosted the visit from “St. Nick” ahead of the saint’s feast day Dec. 6. (CNS/Katie Rutter)

By Katie Rutter
Catholic News Service

SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (CNS) — Belief in that iconic Christmas figure, the rotund merry man with a bag full of presents, inspires thousands of children to write letters addressed to “Santa Claus” each year.

Surprisingly, many of these wish lists actually do get delivered to Santa Claus. But rather than landing in a magical workshop at the North Pole, the notes wind up in a little Indiana town that bears the same name as the jolly old elf.

“We have already answered 5,000 and we’ll be getting more this morning,” Patricia Koch, founder of the Santa Claus Museum and Village, told Catholic News Service Dec. 2. “They come from the U.S.A. and from all over the world.”

Koch and a dozen other volunteers work long hours to “help” Santa answer the letters that find their way to the Santa Claus post office. Koch calls this letter-writing a ministry and is dedicated to keeping the spirit of Santa Claus, the person, alive. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Bangladesh, Myanmar youths are a sign of hope for Asia, pope says

Pope Francis greets a child as he meets the disabled during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a child as he meets the disabled during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 6. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Young people in Myanmar and Bangladesh are a source of hope for a peaceful future in their countries after years of war and suffering, Pope Francis said.

As is customary, at his general audience Dec. 6, the first after his Nov. 27-Dec. 2 trip to Asia, Pope Francis reviewed his visit.

“In the faces of those young people, full of joy, I saw the future of Asia: A future that doesn’t belong to those who build weapons, but to those who sow brotherhood,” the pope said. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Pope concerned by U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Pope Francis makes his appeal for “wisdom and prudence” regarding the status of Jerusalem. He spoke Dec. 6 at the end of his general audience at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Updated 12/6 2:14 p.m.

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Following reports that U.S. President Donald Trump planned to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Pope Francis expressed his concern that such a move would further destabilize the Middle East.

Pope Francis said he could not “keep silent about my deep concern” for Jerusalem and urged respect for “the status quo of the city in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

The pope spoke at the end of his weekly general audience Dec. 6, the same day Trump announced his decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, fulfilling a promise he made during his presidential campaign. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Court seems divided in cake case examining religious rights, expression

Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop Sept. 21 in Lakewood, Colo. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 5 in the case of the baker who cited religious freedom in his refusal to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. (CNS/Reuters)

Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop Sept. 21 in Lakewood, Colo. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Dec. 5 in the case of the baker who cited religious freedom in his refusal to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. (CNS/Reuters)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. Supreme Court seemed equally divided in the long-anticipated oral arguments Dec. 5 about the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs.

Even Justice Anthony Kennedy’s comments went right down the middle, from expressing concern for those who would be shut out of services to later stressing that “tolerance is a two-way street” and saying the state of Colorado, where the bakery is located, seemed to be “neither tolerant or respectful” of the baker’s views.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, pits anti-discrimination laws against freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.