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Cardinal announces school closures, mergers in Chicago Archdiocese

A student raises his hand during math class in 2010 at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Chicago. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World)

By Catholic News Service

CHICAGO — In a major restructuring, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Oct. 29 that 14 elementary schools would be closed or merged at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

“This restructuring is the result of our ongoing efforts to strengthen and support sustainable Catholic schools over the long term,” said Thomas McGrath, chief operating officer for Catholic schools. “Although difficult in the immediate term, we know taking these steps will increase access for families and students to excellent Catholic school education, now and in the future.” Continue reading

 
Halloween costumes that mock religious figures called disrespectful
Children dance to music during a Halloween carnival at Santa Cruz Catholic School in Tucson, Ariz., Oct 24. The annual event brought together hundreds of students, parents and neighbors for a night of entertainment and fun. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Children dance to music during a Halloween carnival at Santa Cruz Catholic School in Tucson, Ariz., Oct 24. The annual event brought together hundreds of students, parents and neighbors for a night of entertainment and fun. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

By Rose Ybarra
Catholic News Service 

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Every October, many look forward to Halloween — the trick-or-treating, the parties and especially the costumes.

Every Halloween, however, many also mock religious figures with their costume choices. Costumes for badly behaved nuns, rabbis, Muslims, priests, Catholic schoolgirls, Sikhs and Buddhist monks make their way onto store shelves every year. Continue reading

 
R U texting in church? Put the phone down!

This photo illustration shows someone using a cellphone inside a Catholic chapel in Washington Oct. 27. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

By Angela Cave
Catholic News Service 

ALBANY, N.Y. — Entire families navigate their smartphones while sharing meals at restaurants. Students text in class. Parents take phone calls at their children’s sporting events and plays. Continue reading

 
Faith, kindness of slain U.S. journalist recalled at memorial Mass
A photo of slain New Hampshire journalist James Foley is displayed during an Oct. 19 memorial Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester, N.H. Foley was captured by Syrian extremists in November 2012 and killed Aug. 19 of this year. (CNS photo/Donis Tracy, Pilot) See FOLEY-MASS Oct. 24, 2014.

A photo of slain New Hampshire journalist James Foley is displayed during an Oct. 19 memorial Mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester, N.H. Foley was captured by Syrian extremists in November 2012 and killed Aug. 19 of this year. (CNS photo/Donis Tracy, Pilot)

By Donis Tracy
Catholic News Service 

ROCHESTER, N.H. — Close to 1,000 of slain journalist James Foley‘s closest friends and family gathered at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church in Rochester for a memorial Mass to celebrate the life of a man whose life was taken by Syrian extremists on Aug. 19, but whose legacy lives on. Continue reading

 
Religious freedom deteriorating, but don’t despair, official says

Robert P. George. (CNA Photo)

CNA/EWTN News

Although religious freedom conditions around the globe are worsening, Americans should see this fact as a cause for motivation rather than despair, said a leading scholar on the issue.

“I wish that I could say there has been some improvement in the conditions of religious freedom in the world, but I’m afraid the opposite is true: it’s deteriorated,” said Robert P. George, vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Continue reading

 
Liturgical items top agenda at USCCB general meeting in Baltimore

By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service 

WASHINGTON — Liturgical matters will take center stage on the agenda of action items at the fall general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to be held Nov. 10-13 in Baltimore.

There will be five liturgical items up for consideration. All are subject to amendments from bishops. All but one require approval of two-thirds of the bishops, followed by final approval from the Vatican. Continue reading

 
Texas nurse with Ebola supported by prayers from her home parish
Members of a hazardous material team prepare to enter the apartment Oct. 13  of the health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Nina Pham, a Vietnamese Catholic nurse, contracted the deadly virus while treating a patient at the hospital. A prayer service was held Oct. 12 for Pham at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Fort Worth, where she and her family are active members. (CNS photo/Jaime R. Carrero, Reuters) See EBOLA-NURSE Oct. 14, 2014.

Members of a hazardous material team prepare to enter the apartment Oct. 13 of the health worker who was infected with the Ebola virus at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Nina Pham, a Vietnamese Catholic nurse, contracted the deadly virus while treating a patient at the hospital. A prayer service was held Oct. 12 for Pham at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Fort Worth, where she and her family are active members. (CNS photo/Jaime R. Carrero, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service 

DALLAS — During an Oct. 13 Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Fort Worth, the pastor, Father Jim Khoi asked for prayers for Nina Pham, a Dallas nurse who grew up in the parish and is now in the news as the first person known to have contracted the Ebola virus in the United States.

“She’s very comfortable. She’s very supported now. She knows that everybody knew to pray for her, especially in this difficult time,” the priest told The Dallas Morning News daily paper. Continue reading

 
New rules to opt out of HHS mandate still unsatisfactory, says USCCB

By Catholic News Service 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Oct. 8 urged the federal government “to reconsider” its new rules to allow religious institutions — and potentially some for-profit companies — to opt out of the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

On Aug. 22, the Obama administration issued rules it described as a “work around” to offer religious employers who are not exempt from the mandate a new way to opt out of coverage they find morally objectionable. Continue reading

 
U.S. couple at synod calls for ‘robust, creative’ family programs
Alice and Jeff Heinzen of Menomonie, Wis., pose for a photo as they arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 7. The couple are auditors at the synod. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Alice and Jeff Heinzen of Menomonie, Wis., pose for a photo as they arrive for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 7. The couple are auditors at the synod. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Existing diocesan programs and Catholic organizations aimed at helping Catholic families fulfill their vocation clearly are not strong enough to meet modern needs, a Wisconsin couple told the Synod of Bishops.

“We must develop more robust and creative methods to share the fundamental truth that marriage is a divine gift from God, rather than merely a man-made institution,” Alice Heinzen told the synod Oct. 7, reading a speech she and her husband, Jeff, wrote. Continue reading

 
Evidence collected for Father Tolton’s sainthood cause heads to Vatican

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry, left, and Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Francis George sign documents at a ceremony that marked the sealing of a dossier of local research aimed at making Father Tolton, the first African-American diocesan priest, a saint. (Courtesy Photo/Deacon Royce Winters)

By Michelle Martin
Catholic News Service 

CHICAGO — With prayers, songs and sealing wax, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago formally closed the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Augustus Tolton Sept. 29 in a ceremony in the St. James Chapel at the Archbishop Quigley Center.

The prayer service marked the binding and sealing of the dossier local research aimed at making Father Tolton, the first African-American diocesan priest, a saint. Cardinal George opened the cause in 2010. Continue reading