ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MANILA, Philippines (CNS) – Pope Francis said his September trip to the U.S. will take him to Philadelphia, New York and Washington – where he intends to canonize Blessed Junipero Serra – but probably no other stops.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) – Micah Herbst of Sioux City does not have a son on the football team at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School.
MANCHESTER – Hundreds gathered at St. Bridget Parish on Jan. 11 to honor Father Stephen Sledesky, who was recognized as this year’s Archdiocesan Distinguished Elementary School Pastor. The award is presented annually to a pastor who exemplifies leadership, dedication and commitment to Catholic school education.
MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Pope Francis told a crowd of an estimated 6 million gathered in a Manila park to protect the family "against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture."
HARTFORD – Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell and the late David A. Lentini were recipients of the St. Francis Spirit Award during the annual luncheon meeting of St. Francis Care, parent company of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, at the Connecticut Convention Center Jan. 7.
Wilfrid Macena and other members of a Haitian amputee soccer team present Pope Francis with a soccer jersey on Jan. 12, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson stands to Mr. Macena’s left.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Highlighting some of the most urgent conflicts facing the world, Pope Francis said such strife and injustices were rooted in a culture of rejection that refuses to recognize God, to protect nature and to respect other human beings.
In a wide-ranging speech Jan. 12 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope urged the world's governments and individuals to work "to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defense of the transcendent dignity of the human person."
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.