Caught in the middle, Middle Eastern Christians, urge peace, understanding

The Very Reverend Fr. Peter Boutros, pastor of St. John of the Desert Melkite Catholic Church, has a word of caution for those who might be glued to the news emanating from Israel as the crisis in the Middle East deepens. “We need to start looking at things a little bit more, look at the depth of things, not just lump everybody together,” Fr. Boutros said.

As death toll in Israel mounts, Catholic pilgrims from Phoenix make their way home

As the death toll in Israel continues to rise, surpassing 1,200 as of Tuesday evening, Fr. Craig Friedley, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek, is now back home unharmed after a harrowing few days abroad. He and a group of about 20 parishioners, along with dozens of travelers from other parishes in the Diocese of Phoenix, had just begun their tour of the Holy Land when war broke out.

Praying for unity, pope welcomes head of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed that Catholics and members of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church would recognize the wounds of division they have inflicted on Christ's body, the church, and come to celebrate the faith together.

Pope prays for those affected by quake in Morocco, urges solidarity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for solidarity and concrete assistance for all those affected by a devastating earthquake in Morocco. At least 2,100 people were killed and more than 2,400 people were injured after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck central Morocco near Marrakech Sept. 8 after 11 p.m. local time. The World Health Organization estimated more than 300,000 people have been affected in the region.

God elects some in order to better reach everyone, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God chooses certain people not to exclude others, but always to include everyone by way of the missionary and social outreach of his disciples, Pope Francis said." This is an important warning for our times, in which ever-increasing currents of separation dig ditches and build fences between individuals and between peoples to the detriment of the unity of humanity, which suffers as a result, and of the body of Christ," he said at the Vatican Sept. 7.

NEWS BRIEF: Bishop Dolan returns from historic 12-day USCCB trip to Africa

Bishop John Dolan returned Tuesday from his 12-day trip to Africa as a member of the USCCB subcommittee on the “Church in Africa.” Bishop Dolan made visits to Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya to review programs supported by the USCCB, his first-ever trip to Africa.  He was joined by Fritz Zuger, a consultant to the subcommittee, on their three nations visit in Africa.

Pope offers prayers for victims of Hawaiian fires

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As fires continued to burn on the Hawaiian island of Maui and as the death toll continued to rise, Pope Francis offered his prayers and his encouragement to firefighters and rescue workers.

Look to God with childlike wonder, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only by shedding feelings of personal greatness and regaining a sense of wonder in God's love can people welcome Jesus into their hearts and lives, Pope Francis said. With some 15,000 visitors gathered to pray the Angelus in St. Peter's Square July 9, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew in which Jesus praises God the Father for hiding "things" from the wise and revealing them to the childlike.

UPDATE: Pope names 21 cardinals, including U.S.-born Archbishop Prevost

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis named 21 new cardinals, including U.S.-born Archbishop Robert F. Prevost, who took the helm at the Dicastery for Bishops in April, and French Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Vatican offers indulgence for visiting elderly, celebrating grandparents day

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics who celebrate the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly July 23 can receive a plenary indulgence, which is a remission of the temporal punishment due for one's sins, the Vatican said.