Pope phones theologian for favor: to prepare him, Curia for Easter

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis phoned a noted Italian theologian to ask him for a “favor” — to help him and Vatican officials prepare for Easter by leading an annual Lenten retreat, the theologian said. The pope calling his cellphone caught Servite Father Ermes Ronchi by surprise, he said, and “my first reaction was…

USCCB files amicus brief on behalf of Little Sisters of the Poor

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who have asked the court for relief from being forced to comply with the federal contraceptive mandate. The brief was filed Jan. 8 in…

Pope: Prayers of the faithful, not clergy, can make miracles happen

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The prayers of the faithful, not the pope, bishops, priests or nuns, have the power to make miracles happen in the most impossible situations, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Saints, like St. Monica, have proven that lives can change if people pray courageously and believe that God “can do…

Comedian, cardinal, inmate present Pope Francis book on mercy

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Arms flailing, the exuberant and perhaps hyperactive Italian actor and comedian Roberto Benigni described Pope Francis as a masterful minister of God’s mercy, which is always active and always on the move. Benigni brought the house down Jan. 12 during the presentation of the new book-length interview with Pope Francis, “The…

Church’s credibility found in showing mercy, pope says in new book

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Being ministers of God’s mercy, church members overcome “prejudice and rigidity,” taking risks like Jesus did in order to heal and to save, Pope Francis said. In Jesus’ day, lepers were cast out of the community “to avoid contamination: the healthy needed to be protected,” but Jesus, at his own risk,…

Pope Francis baptises 26 babies in Sistine Chapel

Vatican Radio – Pope Francis on Sunday baptized 26 baby girls and boys during Mass in the Sistine Chapel marking the feast day of Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan. In a short and off-the-cuff homily the Pope said through baptism, our faith is handed on from one generation to the next, throughout the course…

Pope Francis asks for prayers for interreligious dialogue

Vatican Radio – Revealing his prayer intention for January, Pope Francis says he is praying so that “sincere dialogue between men and women of different religions may yield fruits of peace and justice”. For the first time the Pope’s traditional monthly prayer intention is available on video, thanks to a new initiative launched by the…

Mexican Nuncio looks ahead to Pope Francis’ visit

Vatican Radio – Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico, said Pope Francis desires to ‘share the life of the Mexican people’ and to be close to the Virgin of Guadalupe during his upcoming Apostolic Journey to Mexico (12-17 February). In an interview with Noticias MVS, Archbishop Pierre spoke about the reasons for the Holy…

Mobile apps help some Catholics in freezing northeastern China

HONG KONG (CNS) — Catholic communities in China’s northeastern provinces are using social media to evangelize in the freezing and smoggy winter while still offering pastoral care directly to the elderly Catholics to fill the digital gap, reported ucanews.com. In Jilin, Heilongjiang and Liaoning provinces, the average temperature drops below freezing for four to six…

Lawmakers’ action on guns less swift and sure than the president’s

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When President Barack Obama unveiled a series of executive orders Jan. 5 intended to make a dent in gun violence in the United States, people reacted. And how. “Thank God that someone finally has the courage to close the loopholes in our pitiful gun control laws to reduce the number of mass…