Diocesan phase of Fatima visionary’s sainthood cause completed

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is pictured in a 2000 photo. She died in 2005 at the age of 97. (CNS/EPA)

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, is pictured in a 2000 photo. She died in 2005 at the age of 97. (CNS/EPA)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Diocese of Coimbra concluded its phase of the sainthood cause of Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who saw Our Lady of Fatima in 1917.

Bishop Virgilio Antunes of Coimbra formally closed the local phase of investigation into her life and holiness Feb. 13 in the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she resided until her death in 2005 at the age of 97.

The ceremony included the sealing of 50 volumes — 15,000 pages — of evidence and witness testimonies detailing the life of Sister Lucia. The documents sealed at the ceremony were to be shipped to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes at the Vatican. Continue reading

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Vatican canon law official explains provisions of ‘Amoris Laetitia’

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, speaks at a Vatican press conference in 2015. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, speaks at a Vatican press conference in 2015. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The provisions of “Amoris Laetitia” allow people in irregular marriage situations access to the sacraments only if they recognize their situation is sinful and desire to change it, according to the cardinal who heads the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

The fact that such a couple also believes changing the situation immediately by splitting up would cause more harm and forgoing sexual relations would threaten their current relationship does not rule out the possibility of receiving sacramental absolution and Communion, said Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the pontifical council which is charged with interpreting canon law.

The intention to change, even if the couple cannot do so immediately, “is exactly the theological element that allows absolution and access to the Eucharist as long as — I repeat — there is the impossibility of immediately changing the situation of sin,” the cardinal wrote. Continue reading

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Stalled action on proposed religious freedom order raises concerns

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, speaks to the media outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23 after attending oral arguments in the Zubik v. Burwell contraceptive mandate case. (CNS/Reuters)

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, mother provincial of the Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, speaks to the media outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington a year ago after attending oral arguments in the Zubik v. Burwell contraceptive mandate case. (CNS/Reuters)

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Talk of President Donald Trump possibly signing an executive order on religious freedom — which drew both criticism and praise — has been replaced with discussion about what happened to it and what a final version, if there is one, will look like.

A draft version of the executive order, called “Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom,” had been widely criticized in late January by those who said it would legalize discrimination and was too far-reaching. It then failed to appear on the president’s desk while rumors circulated that a scaled-back version might appear eventually. Continue reading

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NCEA leader says school choice support can help Catholic parents

First-graders finish an assignment during class in 2014 at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Tucson, Ariz. (CNS file/Nancy Wiechec)

First-graders finish an assignment during class in 2014 at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Tucson, Ariz. (CNS file/Nancy Wiechec)

By Valerie Schmalz
Catholic News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — The Trump administration’s apparent endorsement of parental school choice could present a “huge opportunity” for Catholic school parents, the president of the National Catholic Educational Association told a group of Catholic high school teachers in San Francisco.

“This could be a huge opportunity for parents wanting to choose the right school for their children,” Thomas Burnford, NCEA president, told participants at the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s annual high school teachers’ consortium Feb. 3.

“Whatever your politics, the current administration proclaims some understanding or belief in support of school choice,” Burnford said in his talk at Archbishop Riordan High School. In his remarks, he did not mention President Donald Trump directly, saying in later comments he did not want to politicize the subject of parental choice. Continue reading

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Couple donates Ethiopian religious manuscripts to Catholic University

Aaron M. Butts, assistant professor of Semitic languages and literature at The Catholic University of America in Washington holds a possible 16th-century Ethiopic liturgical manuscript. The university is the holder of the fifth largest collection of Ethiopian Christian manuscripts in the United States and the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside Ethiopia. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

Aaron M. Butts, assistant professor of Semitic languages and literature at The Catholic University of America in Washington holds a possible 16th-century Ethiopic liturgical manuscript. The university is the holder of the fifth largest collection of Ethiopian Christian manuscripts in the United States and the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside Ethiopia. (CNS/Tyler Orsburn)

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A massive donation of Ethiopian religious manuscripts to The Catholic University of America in Washington makes the school one of the largest holders of such texts outside Ethiopia.

The value of the donation, by Gerald and Barbara Weiner of Chicago, is estimated to be more than $1 million. The collection includes more than 215 Islamic manuscripts, 125 Christian manuscripts, and 350 so-called “magic” scrolls with prayers to protect the owner or reader from particular illnesses.

What makes the manuscripts valuable is that they’re handmade, according to Aaron Butts, an assistant professor of Semitic languages and literature at Catholic University. What makes them rare, he added, is that such texts are rarely seen outside Ethiopia, and that the East African nation’s rainy season often renders the books and scrolls unusable or illegible after repeated use. That so many texts — most of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries, with a few even older — still survive, and in a usable condition, he told Catholic News Service, is “amazing.”

“Every one of them is a treasure,” Butts said. Continue reading

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Be Christians of substance, not appearance, pope says at Angelus

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Obeying the true spirit of the commandments and not just a literal interpretation of them is what makes Christians become authentic witnesses, Pope Francis said.

As seen through Mary’s example, following the commandments “is possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit which enables us to do everything with love and to fully carry out the will of God,” he said Feb. 12 before reciting the Angelus with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Continue reading

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Pope praises abuse survivor for breaking silence

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Yerevan, Armenia, to Rome June 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis answers questions from journalists aboard a papal flight last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The sexual abuse of children by those who have vowed to serve Christ and the church is a horrendous monstrosity that represents “a diabolical sacrifice” of innocent, defenseless lives, Pope Francis said.

The church, which must protect the weakest, has a duty “to act with extreme severity with priests who betray their mission and with the hierarchy — bishops and cardinals — who protect them,” the pope wrote in the preface to a new book written by a man raped as a child by a Capuchin priest.

The book, “My Father, I Forgive You” (“Mon Pere, Je Vous Pardonne”), was written by Daniel Pittet, 57, in an effort to describe how he fell victim to a predator abuser when he was 8 years old growing up in Fribourg, Switzerland, and the challenges he faced when came forward two decades later with the accusations. The book, currently published only in French, was to be released Feb. 16. News outlets released the text of the pope’s preface Feb. 13. Continue reading

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