Jesuit aims to stem decline of faith with launch of catechetical website

Jesuit Father Robert J. Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., is currently president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith and the Spitzer Center in Garden Grove, Calif. The priest has launched a new catechetical website,, to help stem the decline of faith. The site offers 20 downloadable modules to equip learners with evidence-based arguments for core Christian beliefs. (CNS photo/courtesy Father Spitzer)

By Maureen Pratt 
Catholic News Service

ANAHEIM, Calif. (CNS) — Jesuit Father Robert J. Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, launched a cutting-edge catechetical website to confront the rising tide of unbelief spurred by an increasingly skeptical, science-saturated society.

Developed through Father Spitzer’s Magis Center, based in Garden Grove, Credible Catholic offers 20 downloadable “modules” that equip Magis Center learners with evidence-based arguments for core Christian beliefs. The catechetical website is

“The Credible Catholic modules correspond to fundamental apologetics in light of modern scientific methods,” said Father Spitzer, author and co-host of the Eternal Word Television Network program, “Father Spitzer’s Universe.”

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Posted in U.S.

Tennessee’s Catholic bishops urge governor to halt upcoming executions

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is pictured in a 2016 photo. The state’s Catholic bishops, Bishops J. Mark Spalding of Nashville, Richard F. Stika of Knoxville and Martin D. Holley of Memphis, have written to Haslam urging him to “use your authority as governor to put an end to the fast-track executions planned” in the state in the upcoming months. (CNS photo/Mike Theiler, pool via Reuters)

By Theresa Laurence 
Catholic News Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) — Bishops J. Mark Spalding of Nashville, Richard F. Stika of Knoxville and Martin D. Holley of Memphis have written to Gov. Bill Haslam urging him to “use your authority as governor to put an end to the fast-track executions planned” in the state of Tennessee in the upcoming months.

“It is within your power to establish your legacy as a governor of Tennessee who did not preside over an execution on your watch,” the state’s three Catholic bishops wrote.

The last person to be put to death by lethal injection in Tennessee was Cecil Johnson in 2009, when Phil Bredesen was governor. The state has carried out a total of six executions since 1976, five of those during Bredesen’s tenure.

In Tennessee, the governor has sole authority to grant clemency to death-row inmates.

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Posted in U.S.

Nicaraguan bishops to pray for exorcism as violence continues

People pray in front of police who block the entrance to Divine Mercy Catholic Church July 14, where students from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua sought refuge in Managua. More than 200 students sought refuge in the church after police forced them out of the university, which had been occupied during two months of protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega. (CNS photo/Oswaldo Rivas, Reuters)

Updated July 18.

By Catholic News Service

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNS) — Police and paramilitaries in Nicaragua have attacked another parish in an indigenous community as churches and clergy come under attack for trying to protect populations protesting authoritarian rule.

Gunfire and was directed at Mary Magdalene Parish in Monimbo, “where the priest is seeking shelter,” tweeted Managua Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez July 17.

Later in the day he tweeted, “I have suffered and I have prayed intensely for my city of Masaya and the beloved barrio of Monimbo. There still is not clear news. What is clear is that Monimbo, even hurt, lives and today obtained a great moral victory of courage and love of the homeland.”

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Posted in World

A good Christian shares the Gospel, pope says

Lay Catholic missionary Connor Bergeron of Reston, Va., center back row, poses in this 2015 file photo with people he served during his 16 months of working with the Salesian Lay Missioners in Yapacani, Bolivia. (CNS photo/courtesy of Connor Bergeron)

By Cindy Wooden 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — All Christians are called to be missionaries, concerned more with sharing the Gospel than with earning money or even with being successful at winning converts, Pope Francis said.

“A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Christ, is not a good Christian,” the pope said July 15 before reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis was commenting on the day’s Gospel reading, which told about how Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two to preach and to heal in his name.

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Posted in Vatican, World

Deacons’ ministry of presence will be in forefront at upcoming congress

Deacon John Horn blesses Carol Rizzotti following his ordination May 19 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, N.Y. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

By Peter Finney Jr. 
Catholic News Service

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — The 18,000 deacons in the United States exercise a ministry of presence, bringing the healing and hope-filled message of Jesus Christ to people they encounter daily in their parishes, other ministries and workplaces.

That diaconal ministry of presence will be front and center July 22-26 in New Orleans.

About 2,800 people — including 1,300 deacons, along with their wives and children — will attend the 2018 National Diaconate Congress, an event so big it will require three hotels to accommodate the attendees.

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Posted in U.S.

Charities’ CEO visits border, hears immigrants’ stories of fleeing danger

Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, and Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Ariz., pray July 12 with a young family moments before they leave Casa Alitas, a family shelter in Tucson, for a bus trip that will take them to family in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Michael Brown, Catholic Outlook)

By Michael Brown 
Catholic News Service

NOGALES, Mexico (CNS) — Dominican Sister Donna Markham, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, grew emotional talking about the harrowing stories she heard from immigrants about the life they left behind to seek refuge in the United States.

“The suffering they are going through is unimaginable,” she said after listening to stories from families waiting to apply for asylum at the international border at Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Sister Markham, who recently completed a tour of a detention facility for children in McAllen, Texas, said she wanted to visit Nogales to get the whole story behind the current public debate over immigration.

“Their stories,” she said, pausing to compose herself. “They are running for their lives. Literally, they left at gunpoint.”

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Posted in U.S., World

Sunday Scripture readings, July 15, 2018: Freedom to serve


The Catholic News Service column, “Speak to Me Lord,” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

July 15,  Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B
1) Am 7:12-15
Psalm 85:9-14
2) Eph 1:3-14
Gospel: Mk 6:7-13

By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most well-known and beloved saints of the church. Today, a familiar aspect of his saintly life was his love for creation that reveals the beauty and power of God. His Canticle of the Creatures is a moving, poetic hymn of praise to God through all of creation — the sun, the moon, stars, wind, air, water, fire, flowers and fruit. Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’,” On Care of Our Common Home, begins with the words of St. Francis’ canticle of praise to God for creation. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns