Free from ordeal in Sudan, woman condemned for apostasy meets pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meeting a Sudanese woman who risked execution for not renouncing her Catholic faith, Pope Francis thanked Meriam Ibrahim for her steadfast witness to Christ. The pope spent 30 minutes with Ibrahim, her husband and two small children July 24, just hours after she had arrived safely in Italy following a brutal…

Holy Land tour operators scramble to help pilgrims after flight ban

JERUSALEM (CNS) — With most international airlines canceling their flights into Israel’s Ben Gurion airport after several Hamas missiles were launched toward the area July 22, Anton Mousallam has only three words on his mind: cancellation, cancellation, cancellation. The Bethlehem Catholic tour operator said four large pilgrim groups scheduled to arrive in the coming weeks…

Jerusalem patriarch: Don’t punish all Gaza Palestinians because of Hamas

WASHINGTON (CNS) — It is impossible for Israeli military to target Hamas missiles without hitting civilians in the Gaza Strip, said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem. People might not agree with Hamas, which controls Gaza, but “we cannot punish all the population because you do not agree with Hamas,” he told Catholic News Service…

Obama’s order bans discrimination based on workers’ sexual orientation

WASHINGTON (CNS) — President Barack Obama’s executive order of July 21 has installed workplace rules forbidding the firing of employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity by the federal government and federal contractors — a key provision in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act languishing in Congress. The U.S. bishops have opposed the bill, known as…

Pope names U.S. bishops’ top ecumenical officer to advise Vatican council

July 22, 2014 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Among the new members and consultants Pope Francis named to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is Father John W. Crossin, the executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Although in February Pope Francis confirmed all of…

Minnesotan named as a winner in first ‘Imagine+Nation’ video contest

DENVER (CNS) — Winners have been chosen in the first-ever “Imagine+Nation” video contest jointly sponsored by Dynamic Catholic and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Rob Kaczmark of Chicago took first place for his documentary “Limit Break — BMX,” while Cameron O’Hearn of St. Paul, Minnesota, took second place for “Who Do You Want to…

Pope calls for prayers as militants chase all Christians out of Mosul

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the last Iraqi Christians in Mosul fled the city, Pope Francis urgently called for prayers, dialogue and peace.“Violence isn’t overcome with violence. Violence is conquered with peace,” the pope said before leading thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square in a moment of silent prayer July 20.“Our brothers and…

Catholic leaders speak out about policy toward migrant kids, families

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Latin America expert for Catholic Relief Services, the head of the bishops’ migration committee and the president of a Catholic college in Michigan were among those urging the government toward humanitarian responses to a surge of children and families crossing the U.S. border from Central America. Among their recommendations were: fully…

Argentine national soccer team sends autographed jersey to Pope

July 20, 2014 In a gesture of gratitude and affection, the Argentinean national soccer team, which lost Sunday to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, sent Pope Francis an official team jersey autographed by each of its players.“Here’s the present the team sent to our Pope Francis!” team member Maxi Rodriguez said in a…