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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.

Pope: Defend the Rohingya, who are ‘images of the living God’

Pope Francis greeted a young Rohingya refugee from Myanmar at a Dec. 1 interreligious and ecumenical meeting for peace in the garden of the archbishop’s residence in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, yet so often people desecrate that image with violence, as seen in the treatment of Myanmar's Rohingya, Pope Francis said.

"Today, the presence of God is also called 'Rohingya,'" the pope said Dec. 1 after meeting, clasping hands with and listening intently to 16 Rohingya who have found shelter in Bangladesh.

"They, too, are images of the living God," Pope Francis told a gathering of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu leaders gathered in Dhaka for an interreligious meeting for peace.

Tax bill called ‘unacceptable,’ some provisions ‘unconscionable’

WASHINGTON — The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 "is unacceptable" as currently written and it "contains many fundamental structural flaws that must be corrected," stated the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a letter Nov. 9 to U.S. House members, the three bishops called for amendments to the current draft of the tax reform bill "for the sake of families" and "for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have a claim on our national conscience."

U.S. bishops take on immigration, racism at fall assembly

Bishops exchanged the sign of peace during Mass Nov. 12 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Baltimore on the eve of the fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

BALTIMORE — At the start of their annual fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 13, U.S. Catholic bishops faced some big issues — immigration and racism — straight on and zeroed in on how to raise the national level of discussion on these topics starting in the church pews.

They acknowledged the current polarization in the country and divides within the Catholic Church and stressed their responsibility as Church leaders to promote immigration reform, educate parishioners on justice issues and listen to those affected by "sins of racism."

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