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Cardinal George hospitalized for tests to evaluate his condition

By Catholic News Service

CHICAGO (CNS) — Cardinal Francis E. George, retired archbishop of Chicago, was admitted to Loyola University Medical Center March 1 to undergo several days of tests.

A March 3 news release from the Chicago Archdiocese said the tests were being conducted to evaluate his condition since he stopped treatment for cancer in late January.

“The cardinal continues to count on the prayers of so many who have written to wish him God’s blessings,” said the statement.

Cardinal George was in a clinical drug trial to treat his cancer until January. He was dropped from the trial being conducted by University of Chicago Medicine after scans showed the experimental treatment was not working for him.

At a Jan. 30 news conference, he told reporters doctors have exhausted all options in his cancer treatment and have moved on to palliative care.

“They’ve run out of tricks in the bag, if you like,” said Cardinal George, 78. Continue reading

San Diego Diocese to be headed by California native Bishop McElroy

Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Robert W. McElroy, 61, bishop of the Diocese of San Diego. Bishop McElroy has served as an auxiliary bishop of San Francisco since 2010. He succeeds the late Bishop Cirilo Flores, who died September 6, 2014. Bishop McElroy is pictured in a 2012 photo. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Auxiliary Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Francisco has been named to head the Diocese of San Diego by Pope Francis.

The appointment was announced in Washington March 3 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop McElroy, 61, is a native of San Francisco who has spent most of his life in the Bay Area. He has been an auxiliary bishop since 2010.

He succeeds Bishop Cirilo B. Flores, who died Sept. 6, 2014.

“Bishop McElroy is exemplary in his outreach to many groups and communities in the archdiocese and we are all grateful for his wise advice and guidance to people and parishes in the archdiocese,” said a statement from San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone.

He said San Diego’s location as a major metropolis on the U.S.-Mexico border across from another major metropolis. Tijuana, “presents distinctive challenges and opportunities.” Continue reading

Shroud shows what pain Jesus endured for his flock, says speaker


Donald Nohs points to distinguishing marks on a negative image of the Shroud of Turin during a Feb. 4 presentation at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery in Pittsburgh. Nohs, who is an expert on the Shroud, widely believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, said the image shows what pain Jesus endurec for his flock. (CNS photo/John Franko, Pittsburgh Catholic)

By John Franko
Catholic News Service

PITTSBURGH — Donald Nohs, who is an expert on the Shroud of Turin, widely believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, talked to a Pittsburgh audience about the evidence of authenticity for the shroud.

Jesus’ passion, Nohs noted, was much more than a physical suffering. It was the humiliation and embarrassment of being scourged in the nude in front of his mother and friends. The suffering Mary endured, he said, which is why she is our greatest intercessory in heaven. He asked the audience to bring Mary into their hearts and walk with her through the presentation.

“There was no end to the humiliation,” he said. “The embarrassment. The physical pain. No end.”

Nohs presented “Discovering Jesus in His Holy Shroud” at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery on Pittsburgh’s South Side to a capacity audience of about 550 people.

Nohs, director general of the Confraternity of the Passion International and president of the Holy Face of Jesus, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the Shroud of Turin. He has studied the shroud for more than 50 years. Continue reading

Rural areas provide fertile ground for crops and for priestly vocations

By Doug Weller
Catholic News Service

SALINA, Kan. — Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York says one of the virtues of rural life is the number of priests who come from country parishes.

The Diocese of Salina would seem to confirm that.

Of its 53 active and retired diocesan priests, 26 grew up in a parish of fewer than 150 families. Of the current seminarian class of 14 men, four are from rural parishes.

Several priests who grew up in rural parishes all spoke to The Register, Salina’s diocesan newspaper, of feeling a closeness to the land, nature and to God that, in turn, opened their hearts to the priesthood.

“There is a natural closeness to dependency on God in the rural setting,” said Father Kerry Ninemire, who grew up in St. Joseph Parish in New Almelo. “Our lives were so dependent on the elements that our minds were often naturally on God.” Continue reading

Father Theodore Hesburgh, higher education leader, diplomat, dies at 97

Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, died Feb. 26 at age 97 in the Holy Cross House adjacent to the university in South Bend, Ind. He is pictured in a 2006 photo. (CNS photo/Matt Cashore, courtesy University of Notre Dame)

By Catholic News Service

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Holy Cross Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame through a period of dramatic growth during his 35 years as president and held sway with political and civil rights leaders, died Feb. 26 at the age of 97.

As the longest serving president of Notre Dame, from 1952 to 1987, Father Hesburgh built the university from a small college primarily known for its prowess on the football field into one of the nation’s premier higher education institutions.

In announcing the highly regarded priest’s death, the university did not cite a specific cause.

Funeral arrangements remained to be finalized, but the university said a funeral Mass would be celebrated in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus.

“We mourn today a great man and faithful priest who transformed the University of Notre Dame and touched the lives of many,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s current president, said in a statement. “With his leadership, charism and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation’s great institutions for higher learning.

“In his historic service to the nation, the church and the world, he was a steadfast champion for human rights, the cause of peace and care for the poor,” he said. Continue reading

Letters to President Obama and Congressional Leaders Concerning Religious Freedom Violations in the Middle East

WASHINGTON—In the wake of the brutal murders of twenty one Coptic Christians at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya, increased support to protect religious minorities and civilians should be combined with adequate humanitarian assistance and other assets, said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“Pope Francis and the Holy See have reiterated on a number of occasions that it is ‘licit’ to use force to stop these unjust aggressors and to protect religious minorities and civilians from these horrendous attacks,” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, USCCB president, and Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a February 23 letter sent to President Obama and the U.S. House and Senate leadership. “They have emphasized that the use of military force must be proportionate and discriminate, and employed within the framework of ‘international and humanitarian law.’” Continue reading

Bishop asks for prayers for communities hit hard by train derailment

By Colleen Rowan
Catholic News Service

BOOMER, W.Va. — As the cleanup of a major train derailment in West Virginia continued, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston called for prayers for residents who were evacuated and remained without drinking water.

“As the people of this region face yet another water crisis in the middle of winter, we are all reminded of the fragility of our natural environment and our dependence on it,” Bishop Bransfield said.

A federal investigation has begun into what caused the Feb. 16 train derailment that spilled crude oil into the adjacent Kanawha River. Continue reading

On Ash Wednesday, cardinal urges solidarity with persecuted Christians

Cardinals Donald W. Wuerl of Washington and Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston arrive for a consistory at which Pope Francis created 20 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Richard Szczepanowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Making an impassioned plea at the end of his Feb. 18 Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington urged Catholics to offer prayers and speak out for Christians being persecuted throughout the world.

“Lent is a time of prayer — pray for those who are suffering and offer your voice,” Cardinal Wuerl told a standing-room-only congregation. “Say, ‘This is wrong. There is no political, social, cultural or religious reason for this.’” Continue reading

In sight of the nation’s capitol, a massive Bible museum underway

This architectural rendering shows how the Museum of the Bible planned for Washington will look. Opening in 2017, the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot museum is being designed by the lead architect group that created the International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and the soon-to-open National Museum of African American History and Culture. (CNS photo/courtesy Smith Group JJR)

By Matthew Hadro

Washington D.C. — A vast Bible museum is currently under construction in Washington, D.C. and has had strong support since its beginning phases from the Vatican, officials for the project revealed last week.

“When we introduced the Museum of the Bible, the first place we introduced it was at the (Vatican) Embassy here in Washington, D.C., for a private gathering,” the president of the museum Cary Summers told reporters at the official beginning of construction on the museum on Feb. 12.

“We have a very strong working relationship with the Vatican Museum and the Vatican (Apostolic) Library.” Continue reading

Decade after assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang, work remains risky

A cross stands on the spot where U.S. Sister Dorothy Stang, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was murdered Feb. 12, 2005, on an isolated road near the Brazilian town of Anapu June 7. (CNS photo/Lunae Parracho, Reuters)

By Lise Alves
Catholic News Service

SAO PAULO — In the 10 years since U.S.-born Sister Dorothy Stang was killed by ranchers in the Amazon, the risks have not decreased, said one of the coordinators of the Brazilian bishops’ Pastoral Land Commission.

Antonio Canuto, one of the commission’s coordinators, said although the 73-year-old nun’s assassination in Anapu brought awareness of the plight of the peasants with whom she worked, this has not been enough to decrease impunity in the region. Continue reading