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HAVANA - Although it was not part of his formal program, Pope Francis took time after Sunday Mass to visit Cuba's ailing 89-year-old former leader, Fidel Castro. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said after the Mass Sept. 20 in Havana's Revolution Square, Pope Francis was driven to the residence for the informal meeting, which lasted 30-40 minutes.
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The Sulpician Fathers are the cream of the cream in seminary formation. They run seminaries in several countries and are known for forming well-rounded priests. Many of their pupils and professors have gone on to become bishops and cardinals. The Sulpicians have been in Edmonton for 25 years and under their watch St. Joseph Seminary has turned into a solid, stable institution.
Inspired by Pope Francis, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace is inviting parishes and individual parishioners to prepare for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this December. D&P is inviting people to engage in a process of education, prayer, reflection and action using Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si'.
Fifty-one year old Somali refugee Abdi Mahdi is one of 25 students taking an English class offered by the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Kobe refugee camp. He's also one of nearly 42,000 refugees in this particular camp located about three kms from the border between Ethiopia and Somalia.
Bishops examined their role in fighting euthanasia and assisted suicide during the annual gathering of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. In his welcoming remarks to the almost 90 bishops and eparchs gathered for the Sept. 14-18 conference in Cornwall, Ont., CCCB president Paul-André Durocher said the Supreme Court of Canada's Feb. 6 decision "to strike down the articles in the Criminal Code that prohibited active euthanasia and assisted suicide is for us a deep cause of worry and concern.
In November 1964, Archbishop Anthony Jordan phoned to ask if I would be interested in visiting Edmonton to examine how the archdiocese could better communicate the startling developments of the Second Vatican Council. I was then living in New Jersey, where I was associate editor of The Sign, a Catholic monthly with a large circulation in the U.S. His call caught me in a reflective moment, for I was thinking of returning to my native Canada.
I start from the assumption, rather quaint perhaps in a time when we are surrounded with almost uncountable forms of mass communications, that there is a thing called Catholic journalism and it is a close relative to that other thing known as journalism, plain and simple.
The Scripture readings, which we just heard proclaimed, were not specifically chosen for our celebration. They are the readings assigned by the Lectionary for today. Yet, even though they will be heard by people participating in Mass anywhere in the world today, nevertheless they have a striking application to our particular gathering to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Western Catholic Reporter. It is as if they were, indeed, chosen just for us.
Canada's Catholic bishops have unanimously called on the federal government to invoke the notwithstanding clause in response to the Supreme Court's Feb. 6 decision on euthanasia and assisted suicide. "We urge the government that is elected on Oct. 19 to invoke the notwithstanding clause and extend this timeline to five years," said both the past president and the new president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in a news conference.
The chair of the board of Edmonton Catholic Schools is promising a new transgender policy by October. Debbie Engel said she recently assured Education Minister David Eggen that there will be consensus on a transgender policy at the October board meeting.
Canada's Catholic bishops discussed how to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) calls to action. The dialogue happened during their annual plenary meeting in Cornwall, Ont. Although the CCCB was not involved in running residential schools, it realizes it has a role to play in building a new relationship on a new foundation, said CCCB president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.
There was little doubt Antony Cruz would one day become a priest. As a little boy in India, Cruz loved to play at being a priest, making himself a chasuble out of an old towel. He also made a chasuble for his doll out of a piece of cloth. Then he made a cross with sticks and planted it near a lake for his own pilgrimage. "From my childhood days, I am a Catholic Christian. My family is traditionally a Catholic family," Cruz, a Pallottine priest, told those attending the Catholic prayer breakfast at the Chateau Louis Conference Centre Sept. 12.
Normally a black-tie event at a fancy downtown hotel, the Catholic Social Services Sign of Hope campaign kickoff took a break from its past mold this year. After 25 years of its successful Evening at the Mac gala, the Catholic service charity hosted a new event this fall called Evening at the Park, an evening of free food and folk music in the heart of the inner city, open to the entire community.
Working at the WCR was to be, in my career plan, a whistle stop on a ride to a glorious career in print journalism. Somehow, the train never left the station. Today, I regard that stalled train as one of my life's greatest blessings. Serving the people of God, serving the Church is an enormous privilege on which one cannot put a price.
Dozens of people have worked at the WCR over the 50 years of its existence, some staying for many years and making a significant imprint on various aspects of the newspaper. However, while this anniversary issue cannot recount the contributions of all who worked here, served on the board of directors or wrote as freelancers or columnists, it would be remiss to not to mention those who have served as editor over the past half century.
Pope Francis called Cubans to a "revolution of tenderness" as he celebrated Mass in the Minor Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the country's patroness. While only about 60 per cent of Cubans are baptized Catholics, the little statue of Our Lady of Charity, discovered 400 years ago, is also a widely recognized symbol of Cuban identity and of strength despite struggle.
About a year and a half ago, Lorie McMillan, executive director of the Edmonton Pregnancy Crisis Centre, received a call from Catholic Social Services chief executive officer Stephen Carattini. The Catholic charities executive had just moved from the U.S. to take the CSS helm. As part of his introduction to his new job, Carattini made a point of visiting other Catholic agencies in his new city.
VANCOUVER - Eighty Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants took part in a four-day session on decolonizing pastoral ministry, sponsored by the Western Canadian bishops. Three resource persons gave major presentations during the Aug. 17-20 event.
OTTAWA - For the first time, several Catholic aid agencies are mounting a joint appeal, along with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, to raise funds to help Syrian refugees. The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and the bishops issued a joint press release Sept. 17, saying their united response reflected "the magnitude of this tragic crisis."
CORNWALL, ONT. - Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton, Ont., was elected president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops during its annual general assembly. His two-year term began Sept. 18 at the end of the assembly. He had been conference vice-president for the past two years.
Susan Brinkmann was working for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's newspaper The Catholic Standard and Times, when her editor assigned her to the job of reporting on Jesus Christ, the Bearer of the Water of Life, a 2003 Vatican document. Brinkmann herself had previously dabbled in New Age traditions, including consulting a psychic.
INDIANAPOLIS - As members of the St. Rita Parish Gospel Choir in Indianapolis lifted their voices in song, the crowd lifted their hands clapping in appreciation. They were hands of not just Catholics, but also Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Muslims and more.
WASHINGTON - Repeated calls from Pope Francis for the world to empty its nuclear weapons arsenals carry the moral weight of Catholic social teaching, a panel of experts concurred during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations. Yet, those pleas for nuclear disarmament are little known and often overlooked, the panel of experts said Sept. 17.
SANTIAGO, CUBA - A key task of a traveling pope is to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. For Pope Francis in Cuba, that ministry took on added importance as Cuba and its people stand on the threshold of potentially epochal change. Many people inside and outside Cuba hope that normalized U.S.-Cuban relations will lead to greater communication, trade and exchanges between the two countries. They also hope those experiences will lead to more freedom and democracy on the Caribbean island.
The Sisters of Holy Cross laugh as they recall the time a young Sister Liliane Mercier was put in as goalie in a university soccer match, stopping the ball with her long habit. The sisters, in their distinctive religious black dress, were part of the setting across the University of Alberta campus starting in the 1950s, often taking classes themselves, teaching, being a witness to male and female students, and providing a safe refuge for those girls on campus who lived in their residence house, St. Jude's.