VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Like many Catholic parishes, the Vatican has turned to a raffle to raise money; the difference is, though, the prizes are items originally given as gifts to Pope Francis.
WEST SIMSBURY – A parishioner walks up to her pastor and says, “I want to give you my kidney.”
Pastor smiles and says, “Okay.”
Don’t expect a punch line. It’s no joke.
Father Michael G. Whyte arrived at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in 2007 and has been pastor there since 2008. A type 1 diabetic, he began experiencing extreme tiredness and nausea at about that time, signs of kidney failure due to the diabetes. Doctors gave him three choices: go on dialysis and live five or six more years; do nothing and die within six months; or get a kidney transplant and – if it’s from a live donor – live 20 to 25 years.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) annual collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) will be taken up in parishes nationwide on Nov. 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Echoing the teaching of Pope Francis, the collection focuses on the theme: “CCHD: Working on the Margins.”
“In the United States, many Americans continue to face the effects of a stagnant economy, debilitating unemployment, a dehumanizing cycle of poverty, and growing civic disenfranchisement,” said Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Up above the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, Saint Peter's Church shines as the beacon to the Holy Land from the old port city of Jaffa. Peter's vision of the clean and unclean took place here at the house of Simon the tanner. Jaffa (Joppa in biblical times) was also the departure port for the prophet Jonah's encounter with the whale.Bob Mullen/The Catholic Photographer, a member of the Cathedral of St. Joseph Parish in Hartford and a regular contributor to The Catholic Transcript, visited Israel Nov. 4-11 and shared the sites through these photographs. The Israel Ministry of Tourism and El Al Israel Airlines arranged the “Catholic Highlights of Israel” tour primarily for writers, editors and photographers for Catholic media. The photos marked "Photo of the Day" are available for download for free. They will be highlighted periodically.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The world's bishops are called to be servants and shepherds who use their position to care for people and the faith, not to seek power and boost their pride, Pope Francis said.
The church has no place for men with a "worldly mentality" who are seeking a career, he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Nov. 5.
"It's sad when you see a man who seeks this office and who does so much to get there and when he makes it, he doesn't serve, but struts like a peacock, living only for his own vanity," the pope said.
BRANFORD – St. Mary School’s seventh and eighth graders are learning science and math from Albertus Magnus College faculty now as part of a new partnership.
The partnership is designed to improve the St. Mary students’ competitiveness in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields of study. The school’s STEM program aims to provide students with a dynamic, engaging series of educational experiences based on an innovative, in-depth and hands-on approach to science.
WASHINGTON (CNS) – In a strongly worded letter to his fellow bishops, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York charged that White House officials failed to consider the U.S. bishops' concerns that the federal mandate governing employer coverage of contraception and sterilization under the health care law violated religious freedom principles.
An invitation from the White House to "work out the wrinkles" regarding the mandate either by rescinding it or at least widening the exemptions on religious grounds failed to reach an agreement and the effort "seems to be stalled," he said in the letter released late March 2.
The letter cited recent comments by a White House official that the mandates are a "fait accompli" and that Congress was notified that the rules have been published in the Federal Register "without change."
Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also said that during a recent meeting with White House officials, USCCB staff members "asked directly whether the broader concerns of religious freedom ... are all off the table."
"They (USCCB staff) were informed they are," he wrote.
"Instead they advised the bishops' conference that we listen to the 'enlightened' voices of accommodation," pointing to a recent editorial in America magazine, the cardinal said.
The editorial in the magazine's March 5 issue questioned whether the bishops' opposition to the revised mandate released by the administration Feb. 10 was an issue of disagreement over government policy as opposed to an infringement of religious liberty.
"The White House seems to think we bishops simply do not know or understand Catholic teaching and so, taking a cue from its own definition of religious freedom, now has nominated its own handpicked official Catholic teachers," the letter continued.
Despite the setback, Cardinal Dolan promised that the USCCB would not back down in its drive to overturn the mandates because of its overriding concern for religious freedom.
President Obama's revision said religious employers could decline to cover contraceptives if they were morally opposed to them, but the health insurers that provide their health plans would be required to offer contraceptives free of charge to women who requested such coverage. Questions remain as to how it relates to religious employers who are self-insured.
In his letter, the cardinal reiterated that the bishops' conference will "continue to accept invitations to meet with and to voice our concerns to anyone of any party, for this is hardly partisan, who is willing to correct the infringements on religious freedom that we are now under."
"But as we do so, we cannot rely on off-the-record promises of fixes without deadlines and without assurances of proposals that will concretely address the concerns in a manner that does not conflict with our principles and teaching," he added.
Cardinal Dolan also expressed hope that Congress may be more willing to address religious freedom concerns legislatively.
"Our commitment to seeking legislative remedies remains strong. And it is about remedies to the assault on religious freedom. Period," Cardinal Dolan said.
The letter outlined planned actions to spread the word about the mandates to parishes. It said advocacy and education efforts will expand and that catechetical resources on the significance of religious freedom to the church and the church's teaching on it from doctrinal and moral perspectives are being developed.
Liturgical aids to encourage prayer on challenges to religious freedom also are on tap, the letter said.
"Given this climate we have to prepare for tough times," Cardinal Dolan wrote.
"Brothers, we know so very well that religious freedom is our heritage, our legacy and our firm belief, both as loyal Catholics and Americans," he continued. "There have been many threats to religious freedom over the decades and years, but these often came from without. This one sadly comes from within.
"As our ancestors did with previous threats, we will tirelessly defend the timeless and enduring truth of religious freedom," he said.