Nation and World News

U.S. urged to be more vigorous in protecting religious freedom globally

WASHINGTON — A U.S. congressman told attendees at a Washington summit on Christian persecution that "more than ever before, vigorous U.S. leadership and diplomacy are needed to address religious freedom violations globally."

"Religious persecution is festering and exploding around the world. What has been unconscionable for decades, centuries, has gotten worse," Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, said May 12 in remarks at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

Fatima seers become Church’s youngest non-martyred saints

Portuguese shepherd children Lucia dos Santos, center, and her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, are seen in a file photo taken around the time of the 1917 apparitions of Mary at Fatima.

FATIMA, Portugal — Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonized two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima.

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the pope said May 13 as an estimated 500,000 pilgrims applauded.

The relics of the young shepherd children, encased in two thin golden crosses, were placed in front of the famed statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the "lady dressed in white" as the siblings and their cousin described her.

Fatima seers become Church's youngest non-martyred saints

Pope Francis used incense as he venerated a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the canonization Mass of Sts. Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the three Fatima seers, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, May 13. The Mass marked the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Marian apparitions, which began on May 13, 1917.

FATIMA, Portugal -- Standing before the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis canonized two shepherd children who saw Mary at Fatima, but more importantly, he said, they heeded the call to pray for sinners and trust in the Lord.

"We declare and define Blessed Francisco Marto and Blessed Jacinta Marto as saints," the pope said May 13 as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims broke out in applause before he finished speaking.

Pilgrimage to Fatima a time of prayer, encounter, pope says

Pope Francis arrived May 12 at Monte Real air base in Leiria, Portugal. The visit took place around the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition in Fatima, Portugal, and includes the canonization of two of the visionaries.

LEIRIA, Portugal -- Pope Francis said his two-day pilgrimage to Fatima would be a time of prayer and encounter with Jesus and Mary.

The visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima "is a bit special," he told reporters aboard his flight from Rome May 12. "It is a journey of prayer, an encounter with the Lord and the holy Mother of God."

After a three-hour flight, during which Pope Francis greeted each of the 69 journalists traveling with him, the papal plane landed at Monte Real air base, about 25 miles from Fatima.

U.S. seminarians run across Italy to help displaced families in Iraq

U.S. seminarians studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome participated in a relay-run across the Italian peninsula to raise funds for displaced families in Iraq. Runners departed from the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas and met in the middle.

ROME — Loaded with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bananas, Gatorade, grit and prayer, nine U.S. seminarians studying in Rome ran relay-style across the Italian peninsula to raise funds for displaced families in Iraq.

Warm-up included a pre-dawn Mass May 6 at the Pontifical North American College where the students live, followed by packing two vans with nine runners, two drivers and protein- and carb-rich provisions, Christian Huebner of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., told Catholic News Service May 4.

Bishop: Cut ‘harmful proposals’ from health care bill

The U.S. Capitol in Washington is seen April 5. The House of Representatives May 4 passed a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by a four-vote margin, 217-213.

WASHINGTON — The American Health Care Act that passed by a four-vote margin May 4 in the House has "major defects," said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Social Development.

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