WASHINGTON (CNS) – New proposed regulations governing the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act continue to violate basic principles of religious freedom, said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In comments filed March 20 with the Department of Health and Human Services, the USCCB raised a series of concerns, among them being that the new proposals keep in place "an unjust and unlawful mandate" regarding the provision of contraceptive and other pregnancy services and that the rules provide no exemption, or accommodation, for "most stakeholders in the health insurance process, such as individual employees and for-profit employers," who are morally opposed to such coverage.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has decided to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper in a Rome juvenile detention facility and wash the feet of some of the young detainees.
It marks a change in venue of the previously scheduled March 28 Holy Week event from St. Peter's Basilica to Rome's Casal del Marmo prison for minors.
While the practice of his predecessors has included washing the feet of priests or laypeople, the ceremony was normally held in either St. Peter's Basilica or the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The Vatican said that, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis used to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper – which reflects on the call to imitate Christ by serving one another – in prisons, hospitals or shelters for the poor and marginalized.
HARTFORD – Neither snow nor sleet nor the hour of the morning kept the faithful away from viewing the Installation Mass for Pope Francis on Tuesday at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Dozens of people travelled from all over the archdiocese to view the historic event with Archbishop Henry J. Mansell. The live Mass from the Vatican, which began at approximately 4 a.m. EDT, was streamed by EWTN, the global Catholic network, and projected onto a large screen at the cathedral.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis formally began his ministry as bishop of Rome and as pope by pledging to protect the Catholic Church, the dignity of each person and the beauty of creation, just like St. Joseph protected Mary and Jesus.
"To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope," he told between 150,000 and 200,000 people gathered under sunny skies in St. Peter's Square and the nearby streets.
With representatives of other Christian churches and communities, delegations from 132 countries, Jewish and Muslim leaders as well as Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Jains present, Pope Francis preached the Gospel, but insisted the values it espouses are essentially human, "involving everyone."
While the rites and rituals of the inauguration of his ministry as pope took place immediately before the Mass, the liturgy itself was a celebration of the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the universal church and "also the name day of my venerable predecessor," Pope Benedict XVI, the former Joseph Ratzinger.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis had been pope for less than six days when he was formally installed March 19, but he had already made a distinctive and overwhelmingly favorable impression on the world.
That is an especially remarkable accomplishment given that, until his election, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been practically unknown to the public outside his native Argentina.
His abrupt change in style from the previous pontificate has overwhelmingly charmed the press and the public. But among the hierarchy, off-the-record sentiments seem to be more mixed: admiration at the ease with which Pope Francis has assumed his new role, alongside doubts that he can or should keep up such an unconventional approach for long.