Nation and World News

Schedule released for pope's visit to the Americas; trip to highlight families, charity, tolerance

VATICAN CITY-- In word and deed, Pope Francis will take his vision of a Catholic's approach to family life, parish life, charity, economics, immigration and good governance to Cuba and the United States during a Sept. 19-27 visit.

Visiting both Cuba and the United States on the same trip not only acknowledges his role in encouraging detente between them, but will give Pope Francis an opportunity to demonstrate that while different political and cultural challenges face Catholics in both countries, the Gospel and its values are the same.

Vatican signs agreement with Palestine, calls for two-state solution

VATICAN CITY -- The Holy See and Palestine have signed a historic agreement that supports a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land, based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine.

The two parties signed the "Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine" at the Vatican June 26. The accord, which includes a preamble and 32 articles, focuses mostly on the status and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine. It assures the Church "juridical recognition" and "guarantees" for its work and institutions in Palestine.

Court rules same-sex marriage legal nationwide

WASHINGTON -- In a landmark ruling, a divided Supreme Court June 26 said same-sex marriage is constitutional nationwide.

"The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the 5-4 majority. "This is true for all persons, whatever their sexual orientation."

Sister Nirmala Joshi, successor to Blessed Teresa, dies at 81

Missionaries of Charity sisters gathered around the body of Sister Nirmala Joshi, 80, inside a church in Kolkata, India, June 23. Sister Nirmala succeeded Blessed Mother Teresa, a Novel laureate, as the head of the Missionaries of Charity and expanded the movement overseas.

Sister Nirmala Joshi, who succeeded Blessed Teresa of Kolkata as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity and led the order for 12 years until retiring in 2009, died early June 23 in Kolkota at age 81.Church and political leaders paid tribute to Sister Nirmala for her devotion to serving poor, sick and hungry people.

"She indeed carried forward the legacy of Mother Teresa, a legacy of love and service to the poorest of the poor through her nuns all around the world," said Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Kolkata, where the order's global headquarters is based.

Encyclical comes at crucial time with message for all, speakers say

Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, spoke at a news conference to present Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment at the Vatican June 18. Also pictured are Orthodox Metropolitan John of Pergamon and Cardinal Peter Turk son, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis' encyclical letter on creation has come at a crucial time as increasing disregard for life and the environment requires immediate attention and action, said speakers at a Vatican news conference.

There is "food for thought" for everyone in the text, and not liking something one reads in it is not an excuse to dismiss the whole document as irrelevant, some speakers said.

Pope speaks as a pastor in call to protect earth, USCCB president says

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addressed media at the National Press Club in Washington June 18 about the U.S. perspective on Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment.

WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis speaks with a pastor's voice and with deep respect for science in calling the world to address threats to all life on earth through environmental degradation and a the mindset of a "throwaway culture" in his encyclical, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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