Retiring Catholic U. prof plans to continue engaging in public policy debates

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, poses for a photo on the campus of The Catholic University of America. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, poses for a photo on the campus of The Catholic University of America. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For all his love of politics and the “frothy media excitement” that surrounds it, Stephen F. Schneck is hardly a political animal.

He’s more the thoughtful type, bringing a calm demeanor and insights formed by his Catholic faith to the high-volume and often contentious debates on important public policy issues since becoming director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America in 2005.

Schneck, 63, was set to retire April 28, but he doesn’t expect to go silent. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Vatican says it would welcome visit by Trump

President Trump (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

President Trump (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If U.S. President Donald Trump requests a meeting with Pope Francis in May, the Vatican will try to make it work, a top Vatican official said.

“Pope Francis always is willing to welcome heads of state who ask,” Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican substitute secretary of state, told the Italian news agency ANSA April 19.

Trump is scheduled to be in Taormina, in southern Italy, May 26-27 for a summit of G-7 leaders and representatives of the European Union. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Pope to canonize Fatima seers May 13; October date for other saints

Portuguese shepherd children Lucia dos Santos, center, and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, are seen in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima. (CNS photo/EPA)

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis will declare the sainthood of Blessed Jacinta Marto and Blessed Francisco Marto, two of the shepherd children who saw Mary in Fatima, Portugal, during his visit to the site of the apparitions May 13.

The date was announced April 20 during an “ordinary public consistory,” a meeting of the pope, cardinals and promoters of sainthood causes that formally ends the sainthood process.

At the same consistory, the pope set Oct. 15 as the date for the canonizations of two priests and two groups of martyrs, including Blessed Cristobal, Blessed Antonio and Blessed Juan — also known as the “Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala” — who were among the first native converts in Mexico. They were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people’s ancient traditions.

Continue reading

Posted in Vatican, World

Supreme Court seems to lean toward church in Lutheran playground case

The U.S. Supreme Court building in early 2017. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

The U.S. Supreme Court building in early 2017. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Supreme Court justices seemed to side with the church in a separation of church and state case argued April 19 about a Missouri Lutheran preschool barred from receiving state funds for playground resurfacing using recycled tires because it is a church property.

In his first minutes before the court, David Cortman, arguing for the church in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, said: “The question is why would someone’s religious status matter in the first place to receiving a government benefit?”

The justices seemed to settle on that point, questioning the state’s decision to exclude the church from a grant program when there are federal programs in place that provide funding that could benefit religious institutions including a Department of Homeland Security program to improve security near synagogues or mosques and a program to repair buildings damaged by the bombing at the federal building in Oklahoma City.

James Layton, arguing for the state, said Missouri also would be against such programs because they similarly grant funds to religious institutions. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Georgetown University, Jesuits apologize for roles in sale of slaves

Jesuit Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, delivers the homily at an April 18 "Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope" in Gaston Hall on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington. (CNS/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

Jesuit Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, delivers the homily at an April 18 “Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope” in Gaston Hall on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington. (CNS/Jaclyn Lippelmann, Catholic Standard)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Georgetown University and the Society of Jesus’ Maryland province apologized April 18 for their roles in the 1838 sale of 272 enslaved individuals for the university’s benefit.

More than 100 descendants attended a morning “Liturgy of Remembrance, Contrition and Hope” that the university created in partnership with descendants, the Archdiocese of Washington and the Society of Jesus in the United States.

“Today the Society of Jesus, who helped to establish Georgetown University and whose leaders enslaved and mercilessly sold your ancestors, stands before you to say that we have greatly sinned,” said Jesuit Father Timothy Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, during the liturgy. “We pray with you today because we have greatly sinned and because we are profoundly sorry.”

The event took place the day after the District of Columbia marked Emancipation Day, which celebrates the emancipation of slaves in Washington April 16, 1862. This year, the local holiday was moved to April 17 because the actual day fell on Easter Sunday. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Al-Azhar peace conference invites Christian leaders of East, West

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople after delivering a blessing in Istanbul in 2014. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople after delivering a blessing in Istanbul in 2014. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was scheduled to attend a peace conference in Cairo with Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar University.

While Patriarch Bartholomew’s office did not release a detailed schedule of events he would be attending during the pope’s April 28-29 visit to Cairo, the Vatican confirmed reports April 19 that Patriarch Bartholomew was invited to take part in the conference and was planning to attend.

Pope Francis also was scheduled to meet Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, soon after the conference April 28, making it a day the heirs of the Apostles Peter, Mark and Andrew all would be present in the ancient land of Egypt. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Closed hearts unable to be surprised by the Resurrection, pope says

A Swiss Guard stands next to Easter flowers as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 19. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A Swiss Guard stands next to Easter flowers as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 19. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian faith is a grace and can be perceived only in the hearts of those willing to be surprised by the joy of the Resurrection, Pope Francis said.

“A closed heart, a rationalistic heart” is incapable of understanding the Christian message which has God’s love — manifested in Christ’s victory over death — at its center, the pope said at his weekly general audience April 19.

“How beautiful it is to think that Christianity is essentially this: It is not so much our search for God — a search that is, truthfully, somewhat shaky — but rather God’s search for us,” the pope said. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican