In his passion, Jesus reveals the God of mercy, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Just as the crowds and government officials tried to dodge responsibility for Jesus’ fate after he was arrested, so today too many individuals and countries want someone else to care for refugees fleeing violence and migrants seeking a better life, Pope Francis said. Preaching about the story of Jesus’ passion and…

As Syria war drags on, Vatican official notes sense of helplessness

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Five years after the war in Syria began, there is a “feeling of helplessness in front of an endless human tragedy,” a Vatican official told the U.N. Human Rights Council. A “continuation of the conflict and its procession of refugees, disrespect of human rights and international humanitarian law” add to the…

Kerry says Islamic State is committing genocide against minorities

WASHINGTON (CNS) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that atrocities carried out by the Islamic State group against Yezidis, Christians and other minorities were genocide, the first U.S. declaration of genocide since Sudanese actions in Darfur in 2004. Kerry said he was not judge and jury, but the Islamic State had self-defined itself…

Obama announces Supreme Court nominee, puts ball in Senate’s ‘court’

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When President Barack Obama announced Judge Merrick Garland as his Supreme Court nominee in the White House Rose Garden March 16, his praise for the candidate was coupled with an urgent plea that members of the U.S. Senate give Garland a fair chance. The president said he took seriously his responsibility to…

Closed doors, hearts cause suffering to innocent migrants, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Like the people of Israel in exile, migrants forced from their homeland due to war and persecution are often left to suffer because of closed hearts and doors, Pope Francis said. “In these cases one may ask, ‘Where is God? How is it that so much suffering can come upon men,…

Pope Benedict: Yearning for mercy is sign of longing for God’s love

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Although he lives a relatively hidden life in a villa in the Vatican Gardens, retired Pope Benedict XVI continues to study modern theological questions and, occasionally, to comment on them publicly. The attention Pope Francis and many Christians are giving to the theme of divine mercy is a “sign of the…

Philippine churches hope training gives momentum to ‘climate warriors’

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — Philippine church environmentalists hope to gather momentum after taking training from a U.S. firm to become “climate warriors.” The seminar by former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project was designed to support participants in their talks with lawmakers as they communicate the urgency of climate change with the intent of…

Pope Francis to make debut on Instagram, Vatican official says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Firming up his presence on social media, Pope Francis will make his debut on the photo-sharing app Instagram, a Vatican official announced. Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, said the pope’s new account “Franciscus,” will go online March 19 and offer another side of his pontificate through photos….

Bishops urge action to quell ‘ever-growing crisis’ of opioid addiction

BOSTON (CNS) — With Massachusetts facing a growing epidemic of opioid addiction, the Massachusetts Catholic bishops have urged actions be taken to quell the epidemic. “The abuse and misuse of opioids has become a national and local epidemic that has increasingly been felt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in recent years. On average, four people…