Northern Ireland political leader Martin McGuinness dies at 66

Martin McGuinness is shown during a Jan. 23 news conference in Belfast. He died March 21 at age 66. (CNS/Reuters)

By Michael Kelly
Catholic News Service

DUBLIN (CNS) — Martin McGuinness, 66, who went from being a paramilitary leader to laying the foundations for peace in Northern Ireland, died March 21. McGuinness was diagnosed with a rare heart condition in December and died in a hospital in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, surrounded by his family.

The Londonderry in which McGuinness grew up was marked by deprivation and gerrymandering that ensured the majority Catholic community in the city was never able to exercise political influence. Discrimination in employment, housing and education was widespread. Continue reading

Posted in World

Vatican releases pope’s schedule for Fatima visit

A statue of Mary is carried through the crowd May 13 at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal in this 2016 file photo. Pope Francis will visit the shrine May 12-13 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. (CNS photo/Paulo Cunha, EPA)

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Celebrating the 100th anniversary of apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis will lead the evening recitation of rosary and celebrate Mass on the anniversary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima when he visits Portugal May 12-13.

The pope will make the two-day pilgrimage to the site where Mary appeared to three shepherd children May 13, 1917. The apparitions continued once a month until Oct. 13, 1917, and later were declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church.

During his visit, the pope also will meet with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and have lunch with the bishops of Portugal.

Continue reading

Posted in Vatican, World

House bill’s ‘life protections’ said laudable, other aspects ‘troubling’

Congressman Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, takes notes as he listens to House Budget Committee lawmakers deliver statements on the American Health Care Act during a March 16 hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. (CNS photo/Shawn Thew, EPA)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The inclusion of “critical life protections” in the House health care bill is laudable, but other provisions, including those related to Medicaid and tax credits, are “troubling” and “must be addressed” before the measure is passed, said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ domestic policy committee.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, who is chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, sent a letter March 17 to House members. It was released March 20 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Pope apologizes for Catholics’ participation in Rwanda genocide

The skulls and bones of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside a church at Ntarama, just outside the capital Kigali, in this 2010 file photo. (CNS photo/Finbarr O’Reilly, Reuters)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Pope Francis asked God’s forgiveness for the failures of the Catholic Church during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and for the hatred and violence perpetrated by some priests and religious.

“He implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church and its members, among whom priests and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission,” said a Vatican statement released March 20 after the meeting of the pope and president.

Some 800,000, and perhaps as many as 1 million people — most of whom belonged to the Tutsi ethnic group — died in the ferocious bloodshed carried out from April to July 1994.

Continue reading

Posted in Vatican, World

Slain Jesuit inspires another Salvadoran archbishop and an ode to martyrs

A mural in El Paisnal, El Salvador, features Blessed Oscar Romero and town native Father Rutilio Grande, surrounded by rural men, women and children, the community the Jesuit Father Grande served from 1972 until his March 12, 1977, assassination. (CNS/Rhina Guidos)

A mural in El Paisnal, El Salvador, features Blessed Oscar Romero and town native Father Rutilio Grande, surrounded by rural men, women and children, the community the Jesuit Father Grande served from 1972 until his March 12, 1977, assassination. (CNS/Rhina Guidos)

By Rhina Guidos
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande has been credited with inspiring Blessed Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador, toward a journey of defending the poor that led to his martyrdom in 1980.

But now, Father Grande’s life seems to have inspired the current archbishop of San Salvador, who issued a pastoral letter remembering, praising and apologizing for the long-overdue recognition of Catholics, including U.S. church members, who suffered persecution and death during Central America’s armed conflicts.

“In my capacity as pastor of this church, I have to acknowledge with humility that we have committed many mistakes,” Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas said in the letter issued March 12, the 40th anniversary of Father Grande’s killing. “We have crossed the threshold of the third millennium in the Salvadoran archdiocese without having pronounced a word of recognition for all the men and women who were victims of persecution, torture, repression” and who ultimately died as martyrs, he said. Continue reading

Posted in World

Movie review: “Beauty and the Beast”

Emma Watson stars in the new adaptation of

Emma Watson stars in the new adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast.” The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS/Disney)

By Joseph McAleer
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) — Disney’s live-action adaptation of its beloved 1991 animated film “Beauty and the Beast” arrives in theaters amid a swirl of controversy over the updating of one of its characters into an openly gay man.

The decision of the studio, director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”), and screenwriters Stephen Chbosky and Evan Spiliotopoulos to reimagine LeFou (Josh Gad), sidekick of the villainous Gaston (Luke Evans), as Disney’s so-called “first gay character” is a regrettable one. A cherished family film has, in essence, been appropriated for an underlying agenda that is firmly at odds with Christian values.

Parents will have a hard time explaining to their kids — as most know the cartoon by heart — why LeFou has jumped on the homosexual bandwagon. His amorous advances to Gaston, proud display of a bite mark from Gaston on his stomach (due to “wrestling”), and ultimate dance in the arms of another man will raise eyebrows, to say the least. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Bagpipes, drums more than St. Patrick’s Day music for the McPhees

Missy and Richard McPhee, who were married on St. Patrick's Day in 1979 at St. Jerome Church in their hometown of East Rochester, N.Y., perform their music. Today they attend St. Mary, Mother of God Church in Jackson, Ga. (CNS/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

Missy and Richard McPhee, who were married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1979 at St. Jerome Church in their hometown of East Rochester, N.Y., perform their music. Today they attend St. Mary, Mother of God Church in Jackson, Ga. (CNS/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

By Andrew Nelson
Catholic News Service

JACKSON, Ga. (CNS) — As a kid, Richard McPhee played the clarinet. But when his firefighter father asked for “Amazing Grace” at his funeral with the skirl of the pipes, McPhee pledged to his father, he’d take care of it.

Now the family does not take a trip without the bagpipes. From national parks and Mount Vesuvius in Pompeii to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the pipes have made an appearance.

During a recent morning at their parish church, St. Mary, Mother of God in Jackson, the boom of the drum and the pipes could be heard from the parking lot. It was Missy McPhee swinging the mallets with a flourish, keeping the beat to Rich’s pipes for “Scotland the Brave.” Continue reading

Posted in U.S.