Nation and World News

In visit to Kurdistan, Bp. Cantu hears priorities of Iraqi Christians

An Iraqi soldier stood guard during Christmas celebrations at the al-Tahira al-Kubra church in al-Hamdaniya, east of Mosul. Bishop Oscar Cantu, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said after a visit with Iraqi Christians that he would advocate for a rebuilt Iraq that allows people of many religions and ethnicities to live side by side.

AMMAN, Jordan — After meeting with Church leaders in northern Iraq, a U.S. bishop said he will advocate differently for Iraqi religious minorities.

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, N.M., said that the Iraqi Catholic clergy do not want to see a safe corridor set up for Christians, as some in Washington have suggested.

Pope’s prayer intentions confront ‘culture of indifference’

VATICAN CITY — Last year, more than 13 million people around the world watched Pope Francis explain one of his specific prayer intentions each month.

The 90-second, personal explanations in "The Pope Video," first launched in January 2016, encouraged people to join an estimated 50 million Catholics who already had a more formal relationship with The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network — better known by its former title, the Apostleship of Prayer.

U.S. abortion rate at its lowest since 1973 Supreme Court ruling

WASHINGTON — The U.S. abortion rate is down to its lowest level since the Supreme Court made abortion legal virtually on demand in 1973, and the rate is half of its early-1980s peak.

According to a study issued Jan. 17 by the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate for U.S. women ages 15-44 is 14.6 per 1,000 in 2014, the last year for which statistics are available. The figure represents a 14 percent decline from the 2011 numbers, and less than half of the 1981 rate of 29.4 abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity focuses on overcoming division

Numerous people walked through a gap in the Berlin Wall at the Bernauer Strasse in Berlin Nov. 10, 1989, after the border was opened. The prayer intentions written by Germans for the 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity call to mind the Berlin Wall.

VATICAN CITY — When a group of German Christians was asked in 2014 to prepare materials for the 2017 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, their choice of a "wall" as a symbol of sin, evil and division explicitly referred to the Berlin Wall.

The German reflections on the power of prayer to bring down walls and the Gospel call to reconciliation were adopted by the World Council of Church's Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and proposed to Christians worldwide for the Jan. 18-25 octave of prayer.

POPE’S MESSAGE | Prayer brings light of hope in dark times

Pope Francis walks near violinists at his general audience Jan. 18 in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction, Pope Francis said in his catechesis talk.

VATICAN CITY — Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction, Pope Francis said.

People often feel unworthy to turn to God when they are in need "as if it were a self-interested prayer and, thus, imperfect," the pope said Jan. 18 at his weekly general audience.

"But God knows our weakness; He knows that we remember Him to ask for help and, with the indulgent smile of a father, He responds graciously," he said.

Parents are called to guard faith, make it grow

Pope Francis baptized one of 28 babies in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Jan. 8.

VATICAN CITY — Parents are charged with guarding the faith given to their children at Baptism and helping them become true witnesses by example rather than just rules, Pope Francis said.

By asking the Church for faith for their children through the sacrament of baptism, Christian parents have the task of helping their children to grow so that they "may be witnesses for all of us: also for us priests, bishops, everyone," the pope said during a Mass in the Sistine Chapel.

At Mass Jan. 8, the feast of the baptism of the Lord, Pope Francis baptized 28 infants — 15 boys and 13 girls.

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