nation and world news

Jerusalem archbishop calls for prayers for peace as violence increases

A wounded Palestinian was evacuated at the Israel-Gaza border during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem May 14.

JERUSALEM — Warning that violence will never bring peace, Pope Francis urged all sides to do all they can to foster dialogue in the Middle East.

"I am very worried about the intensifying tensions in the Holy Land and the Middle East and about the spiral of violence that increasingly leads away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations," he said in an appeal May 16 at his general audience in St. Peter's Square.

Catholics get chance to celebrate, think about Mary with new feast day

WASHINGTON — The Catholic Church doesn't often add new celebrations to its pretty full liturgical calendar, but this year's new feast day, Mary, Mother of the Church on May 21, has Catholics gearing up to mark the day or at least think a little more about Mary.

Spring blessings reap harvest of faith among farmers

Father Andrew Sohm talked with farmers Marlan and Sherry Rolfes of Newcastle, Neb., after blessing their fields April 11.

NEWCASTLE, Neb. — For the past five years each spring and fall, Father Andrew Sohm has traveled the highways, two-lane and dirt roads to farms near the parishes he pastors, St. Peter in Newcastle and St. Joseph in Ponca.

He is busy blessing farmers, seeds and the harvest.

"It's a chance to get to know my parishioners well," said Father Sohm, who grew up on a farm near Danbury, Iowa. "Lots of priests have gotten away from blessing the seed, gotten away from the harvest."

NCAA championship is a win-win for Catholic universities

Villanova Wildcats guard Jalen Brunson hoists the national championship trophy after defeating the Michigan Wolverines, 79-62, in the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball championship April 2 in San Antonio.

WASHINGTON — The ball was in the court for Catholic universities in the NCAA basketball tournaments this year.

For the first time, Catholic university teams won both the men's and women's national championship games. The women's team, the Fighting Irish from the University of Notre Dame, beat Mississippi State University on Easter 61-58, thanks to Arike Ogunbowale's dramatic, 3-point shot with less than one second left.

The next night, the Villanova University Wildcats men beat the University of Michigan 79-62, winning their second national title in three years.

Trevi Fountain coins to continue bringing fortune to Rome’s needy

People gather in front of the landmark Trevi Fountain after its 2015 restoration in Rome. While millions of tourists throw a coin over their shoulder into the fountain hoping to return to Rome one day, the money scooped out of the fountain each week offers more concrete hope to the city’s poor.

VATICAN CITY — While millions of tourists throw a coin over their shoulder into Rome's Trevi Fountain hoping to return to Rome one day, the money scooped out of the fountain each week offers more concrete hope to the city's poor.

Rome's city council extended an agreement March 29 with Caritas Rome to entrust it with the tourists' coins to provide food and shelter to the city's poor and needy.

Mississippi governor signs bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law March 19 the most restrictive state abortion bill in the nation because it bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The owner of the state's only abortion clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, filed suit immediately after Bryant signed the bill, claiming it is unconstitutional.

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