• Why a Year of Mercy?

    In recent months, Bishop Edward Weisenburger has had several people ask why our Holy Father has announced a Holy Year, focused on the mercy of God.

    Read More
  • ¿Por qué un Año de la Misericordia?

    En estos meses, muchas personas me han preguntado por qué el Santo Padre anunció un año santo enfocado especialmente en la Misericordia de Dios.

    Read More
  • Bishop reflects on the pope's encyclical

    It is rare that a much-anticipated document lives up to its expectation, but having studied the encyclical of his holiness Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, I conclude that the document exceeds my expectations and actually gives the human community truths to ponder well into the future.

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Prayer Cards for the Fortnight for Freedom

Below are links to downloadable prayer cards that can be used during the Fortnight for Freedom and beyond.  The cards are available in both English and Spanish.

English Mary Immaculate Our Lady of Guadalupe St Thomas More
Spanish Mary Immaculate Our Lady of Guadalupe St Thomas More

Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Sean Gallagher, The CrBy Sean GallagherINDIANAPOLIS (CNS) -- As 23,000 youths from across the country worshipped together during the closing Mass of the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, Leanna Long felt "amazingly overwhelmed" to be in the midst of so many people who shared her faith. She attended the conference from her home in North Carolina, where Catholics are a small minority of the overall population. "We know the church is large," said Long, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill, in the Raleigh Diocese. "But to be able to see it and know that I'm not alone (is helpful). "We're told that where two or three are gathered, (Jesus) is in your presence. Well, I'm one of one in my school. Is God with me still? The answer is, 'Yes.' Even though I'm in North Carolina and someone else is in New Hampshire, we're still ... praying together," she told The Criterion, newspaper of the Indianapolis Archdiocese. "We're still gathered together, and he's there." In her words, Long captured the church's youthful vitality and diverse universality. Both were on display Nov. 21 as conference attendees were led in worship on the feast of Christ the King by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who was the principal celebrant. During his opening remarks at the Mass, Cardinal Rodriguez shared with his young listeners the mission they were being given as they returned to their homes. "This is not the end," he said. "This is the beginning of another stage when you will go back to your places in order to spread the kingdom of Jesus Christ." In his homily, Cardinal Rodriguez reflected on the feast of Christ the King that the church was celebrating that weekend. "Today, we want to celebrate all his triumphs in one single feast, especially established to show Jesus as the only sovereign (in) a society that seems to want to turn its back on God and not acknowledge any of this," said the cardinal, who is a close adviser of Pope Francis. Cardinal Rodriguez later exhorted his "young brothers and sisters" "to spread out his reign of love, with all the values of the kingdom." The kingdom of Christ, he said, is "the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the leaven of the dough, a sign of salvation in order to build a more just world, more brotherly, one based on Gospel values, the hope and eternal joy to which we are all called." The feast of Christ the King also leads the Catholic Church to consider its ultimate fulfillment at the end of time, and the relevance of that future event to the world here and now, he said. "Today's feast is like experiencing an anticipation of the second coming of Christ in power and majesty, the glorious coming which will fill the hearts and will dry forever the tears of unhappiness," Cardinal Rodriguez said. "And, at the same time, it is an encouragement to make real this experience of the second coming by our good works, because the hope of a new earth should not scare us. "Rather, it should strengthen our commitment to cultivate the earth, where that body of a new human family grows and can give us an advance taste of the new world." In addition to the 23,000 youths participating in the Mass, approximately 250 priests concelebrated. The liturgy also featured 18 bishops, 50 deacons and 50 seminarians. The NCYC closing Mass capped the conference that began Nov. 19 and took place in the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has hosted the last three conferences, which are held every two years. It is scheduled to host the next one in 2017. The conference is sponsored by the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry. While many Catholic youths traveled thousands of miles to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference, Frankie Auriemma's trip to the event only took about 20 minutes. A member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, a suburb of Indianapolis, Auriemma was proud that the archdiocese was hosting so many Catholic youths from across the country as she looked upon the attendees in the stadium prior to the start of the closing liturgy. "It's here in our hometown. That's crazy," she said. "We get to be the hometown. I can say, 'Yeah, I'm from Indianapolis. It's cool. This is my home turf.' It makes me really proud. This is where I grew up. I've been here my whole life." Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin expressed his pride in the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana for working hard to host the youth conference by telling the story of St. Mary Parish in Lanesville, which sent 20 youths to the conference and also 40 volunteers. "Young people face particular challenges today," Archbishop Tobin said. "In the heart, we know what it means to be young. And we can serve them. I'm so pleased that so many people in the archdiocese believe in the young people." - - - Gallagher is a reporter at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.- - -Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Italian journalists standing trial in a Vatican court defended their right to freedom of the press, while the Vatican prosecution said the way they acquired confidential information was illegal. All five people accused of involvement in leaking and publishing confidential documents about Vatican finances were present at the opening of the criminal trial in a Vatican courtroom Nov. 24. The accused are: Spanish Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; Francesca Chaouqui, a member of the former Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See; Nicola Maio, who served as personal assistant to Msgr. Vallejo Balda when he worked on the commission; and the journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi, author of "Merchants in the Temple," and Emiliano Fittipaldi, author of "Avarice." Msgr. Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui and Maio were accused of "committing several illegal acts of divulging news and documents concerning fundamental interests of the Holy See and (Vatican City) State." Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were accused of "soliciting and exercising pressure, especially on (Msgr.) Vallejo Balda, in order to obtain confidential documents and news." The Vatican court granted Fittipaldi's request to address the courtroom at the trial's opening session. He expressed his "disbelief" at finding himself being tried by a non-Italian court system when he wrote and published a book in Italy. He said the charges against him were not "for publishing false or defamatory news, but simply for publishing news, an act protected by the Italian Constitution," as well as European and universal human rights conventions. Article 10 of the Vatican criminal code states that whoever "illegitimately obtains or reveals news or documents" that are confidential can face a fine between 1,000 and 5,000 euros and possible imprisonment from six months to two years. Classified information dealing with diplomatic relations or "fundamental interests" of the Holy See or Vatican City State carry more severe penalties, including a maximum eight-year prison sentence. The Vatican criminalized the release of "news and documents" in July 2013. The move came in the wake of the first so-called "VatiLeaks" trial in 2012 when Pope Benedict XVI's butler was charged with "aggravated theft" for giving Vatican documents and papal correspondence to Nuzzi. The updated criminal laws were approved by Pope Francis. At the first session of the trial, Emanuela Bellardini, Msgr. Vallejo Balda's court-appointed attorney, objected that there was not enough time to examine and prepare a proper defense. Fittipaldi and his Vatican-appointed defense lawyer argued that the court summons did not specify the documents he stands accused of releasing and therefore makes his defense impossible. The Vatican's assistant prosecutor, Roberto Zannotti, responded to Fittipaldi's objection, arguing that the trial is not meant to infringe on freedom of the press and is not about the publication of documents, but that he was to "be held accountable" for the illegal way he allegedly obtained the documents published in his book "Avarice." All five defendants were represented by Vatican court-appointed attorneys. Msgr. Vallejo Balda, Chaouqui, and Nuzzi requested the Vatican's appellate court to allow them to be represented by their own lawyers. However, shortly after the proceedings, Nuzzi tweeted that the appellate court denied his request. Nuzzi told the pool reporters present in the courtroom, "We are not martyrs, we are journalists," who were just doing their job and that certain principles needed to be upheld. Giuseppe Dalla Torre, head of the tribunal for the Vatican City State, along with three Vatican judges deliberated about the introductory motions privately for 45 minutes. The judges overruled Fittipaldi and Bellardini's objections and scheduled the next trial date for Nov. 30. The Vatican judges said Msgr. Vallejo Balda would be the first to take the stand, followed by Chaouqui and the other defendants over the course of a week. - - - Contributing to this story was Carol Glatz at the Vatican.- - -Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Personal OrdiBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After consultation with the governing council of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis named Msgr. Steven J. Lopes to be the first bishop of the ordinariate, which serves former Anglicans living in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. The appointment of Bishop-designate Lopes, 40, was announced by the Vatican Nov. 24 along with the announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, 63, who had led the ordinariate since its establishment by Pope Benedict XVI Jan. 1, 2012. "This is the happy outcome of much careful consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to whom I first made this request almost a year ago," Msgr. Steenson said in a statement posted on the ordinariate's website. "I welcome this news with all my heart, for the ordinariate has now progressed to the point where a bishop is much needed for our life and mission."The personal ordinariate, similar to a diocese, serves parishes in the United States and Canada. Its offices are in Houston, Texas.Msgr. Steenson was ineligible to become a bishop because he is married. After 28 years of ministry in the Church of England and in the Episcopal Church in the United States, he and his wife were received into the Catholic Church in 2007. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest two years later. Bishop-designate Lopes, who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 2001, has worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2005. And since 2012 he has served as secretary of the Vatican's "Anglicanae Traditiones" commission, which was responsible for developing "Divine Worship," the new missal for use in the personal ordinariates. The missal combines elements of the Catholic and Anglican liturgical traditions. Although Bishop-designate Lopes was not raised in the Anglican tradition, Msgr. Steenson said he had worked so closely with former Anglicans and with the establishment of the ordinariates for them that "there is no one who knows better" the personal stories of those who joined the Catholic Church and the history of the creation of the ordinariates for Anglicans who wanted to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgy. Bishop-designate Lopes was born April 22, 1975, in Fremont, California. He studied philosophy at the University of San Francisco and at Leopold-Franzens University in Innsbruck. He did his seminary studies at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, California, and in Rome at the Pontifical North American College. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University.- - -Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob RollerBy Carol ZimmermannDERWOOD, Md. (CNS) –- Dorothy Day's granddaughter Martha Hennessy looks a little like her grandmother with her pulled-back white hair, and although she is soft spoken, she likely sounds just like her activist grandmother, too, when talking about helping the poor and promoting peace. Hennessy spoke about such topics and the influence and memories of her grandmother, who is a candidate for sainthood, at a morning talk Nov. 21 in the church basement of St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood. Her observations, to a group of about 50 people sitting at long cafeteria tables, were not just sentimental musings but challenges, stressing, for example, that Catholics have a responsibility to respond to violence, poverty and wars. She also spoke candidly about her grandmother, noting that even though Day was quoted as saying: "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily," she is pretty sure her grandmother is "great with the idea" now. She said the church needs Day's example as a laywoman, mother and grandmother who lived her faith intentionally. Hennessy, 60, is one of Day's nine grandchildren. Seven are still living. Her mother, Tamar, Day's only child, died in 2008. Hennessy, who has three children and five grandchildren, has distinct childhood memories of Day who died in 1980 but she also remembers her as an adult since she was 25, and was raising her 2-year-old son, when her grandmother died. Day's influence on Hennessy, 60, is palpable. "She has played a role in every decision in my life," Hennessy told the group. Her first memory of Day is when she was 3, at her home sitting on her grandmother's lap and listening to her tell a story. "We were all enthralled when she came," Hennessy said, adding: "I believe that was my first awareness of the presence of God being that close to her heart and hearing her voice resonate in her chest." She remembers how her grandmother was sustained by prayer: saying the rosary, attending daily Mass and reading the lives of the saints. She also found her spiritual path living in communion with the poor. Hennessy, a retired occupational therapist who lives in Vermont, also spends a good deal of time living with the poor by volunteering at the Catholic Worker Maryhouse in East Village, a New York City neighborhood, where she cooks, washes dishes and answers the door and the phone, or as she puts it: what she would do at home. She also has visited war-torn regions to meet and speak with people and has been arrested a handful of times for acts of civil disobedience protesting war, drone use and pollutants. The experience at the Catholic Worker houses of hospitality -- a movement founded by her grandmother and Peter Maurin -- always pushes her beyond herself, she said, which she described as part of the blessings of the homes. "We can't isolate ourselves from the poor," she said. Living with the poor, she added, is the only way to know what they experience on a daily basis. "It places us in solidarity with them and is the only way we can begin to understand the injustices they experience." Helping others is no doubt in Hennessy's DNA, as is her Catholicism, but her involvement with the church is something she has only returned to in the past 10 years. It's been a journey, she told the group at the Maryland suburban church. These days she gives about a dozen talks a year at colleges or parishes, talking about her grandmother and the legacy she left behind. Days before her visit to the parish, Hennessy attended the U.S. bishops' annual fall general assembly in Baltimore representing The Catholic Worker newspaper as one of its editors. Just three years ago at the meeting, the bishops, by voice vote, endorsed Day's sainthood cause, which was opened in 2000 and she was given the title of "servant of God." During a news briefing at this year's meeting, Hennessy asked if the bishops would condemn the possibility of escalating war with Syria after the recent attacks in Paris. Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the bishops would approach the current situation in the church's tradition of just-war theory, which among other criteria asks whether the damage inflicted by the aggressor is "lasting, grave and certain" and examines whether all other means to ending the aggression "impractical or ineffective." Archbishop Kurtz said the bishops would be in union with the pope's view and also "see war is not a solution to problems." Hennessy reminded the bishops that two months earlier Pope Francis singled out her grandmother as one of four Americans who had made the country better in his speech to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress. Besides Day, he mentioned the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Trappist Father Thomas Merton. Hennessy said three of the four names he mentioned were pacifists who favored nonviolence. Coincidentally, when the pope was making this address, Hennessy was in the middle of a three day fast and vigil across the street from the United Nations with a group advocating their solidarity with the pope's messages about caring for the poor and the environment. She attended the pope's Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York which she said she is still trying to process. "It wasn't the best venue, but his holy presence was still felt there in that huge space," she said. Hennessy told the parish group, many of whom were more than familiar with her grandmother's works and writings, that she said what needed to be said at the bishops' meeting, but it wasn't something that fell on her shoulders alone. "All of us are responsible to speak out against war," she said.- - -Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The educational alliance among families, schools and states is broken, causing a serious situation that leads to selecting to educate only "supermen" chosen solely based on intelligence or wealth, Pope Francis said. "Behind this, there is always the ghost of money -- always," he said. Education has become "too selective and elitist. It seems that only those people or persons who are at a certain level or have a certain capacity have the right to an education." The pope held an impromptu question-and-answer session Nov. 21 during an audience with more than 2,000 participants in a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Christian Education and the 25th anniversary of "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," St. John Paul II's apostolic constitution on Catholic universities. Taking questions from administrators and faculty members, the pope spoke about Catholic identity in education and warned about the dangers of exclusion and educating within "the walls" of a selective and safe culture. Roberto Zappala, headmaster of Milan's Gonzaga Institute, asked the pope what makes a school "truly Christian." Christian education, the pope responded, is not just about providing catechesis, but requires educating children and young people "in human values," particularly the value of transcendence. Educating that is too focused on the tangible and ignores the spiritual dimension of existence is "the biggest crisis" facing Christian education, he said. "We must prepare hearts so the Lord can manifest himself," which requires an education that strives to reflect "the fullness of humanity that has this dimension of transcendence," he said. Spanish Lasallian Christian Brother Juan Antonio Ojeda, a professor at the University of Malaga, asked the pope how educators can foster a culture of encounter and restore the broken bonds among schools, families and society. The pope said Catholic educators must overcome a tendency of being selective and must work to restore the broken "educational alliance" among families, schools and society, which tends to place profit over people. "This is a shameful global reality," the pope said. "It is a reality that leads us toward a human selectivity that, instead of bringing people together, it distances them; it distances the rich from the poor; it distances one culture from another." Educators, he continued, "are among the worst-paid workers: what does this mean? It means that the state simply has no interest. If it did, things wouldn't go that way. The educational alliance is broken. And this is our job, to find new paths." The pope called on both families and educators to take "reasonable risks" in educating children and youth, helping them to grow. When asked how Catholic schools could contribute to building peace in the world, the pope called on them to educate the poor and the marginalized even if that meant cutting the staff at some of their schools in wealthier neighborhoods. "They have something that youth from rich neighborhoods do not through no fault of their own, but it is a sociological reality: they have the experience of survival, of cruelty, of hunger, of injustice. They have a wounded humanity. And I think about the fact that our salvation comes from the wounds of a man injured on the cross," he said. Pope Francis also gave the participants a homework assignment: to think about how to fulfill the corporal and spiritual works of mercy through education. "Think about it in this Year of Mercy: is mercy just about giving alms or how can I do the works of mercy in education?" he said. - - -Copyright © 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.