Pope Francis prays for victims of synagogue shooting

Pope Francis has paid tribute to the victims of the synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh and spoke of his closeness to the Jewish community there in an address at the Vatican on Sunday morning. In his Angelus address, he said: “May the Most High welcome the dead in His peace, comfort their families and support the wounded.” The Pope also condemned the religiously motivated attack and asked that the Lord “extinguish the outbreaks of hatred that develops in our societies”. Eleven people died when shooting suspect Robert Bowers opened fire at…

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Number of Americans who say they are witches is on the rise

The number of Americans who claim to be witches has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. An estimated 1 to 1.5 million people say they practice Wicca or paganism, a rise from an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, and 340,000 in 2008. In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey found about 0.4 percent of Americans identify themselves Pagan or Wiccan, a significant increase over prior years. If accurate, the Pew data would suggest that there are more self-identified “witches” in the United States than members of some mainline Protestant…

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Priest who was witness in bishop rape case found dead

A Catholic priest considered a prime witness against an Indian bishop accused of rape has been found dead, with his family suspecting foul play. However, local medical staff said he had a series of health problems. Fr Kuriakose Kattuthara, 67, was found dead inside his room in Jalandhar on October 22, a week after Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar was granted bail by the state court in Kerala and went back to his diocese. Ucanews.com reported Fr Kattuthara gave testimony against Bishop Mulakkal, who has been accused of raping a…

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Bishop accused of rape arrested in India

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur was arrested by Kerala police Friday over allegations that he raped a nun repeatedly over the course of two years. The bishop denies the accusations. The Sept. 21 arrest was made in Kochi after three days of interrogation. The bishop will be brought to court Saturday, the BBC reports. Mulakkal, 54, wrote to the Vatican last week asking to be relieved of administration of his diocese; his request was granted, and Bishop Agnelo Gracias, an Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, was appointed apostolic administrator of Jullundur…

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Nigeria: Kidnapped priest dies four days after escaping from abductors

On Wednesday September 19, a Catholic priest that was kidnapped died just four days after he escaped from his abductors. Rev. Fr. Dr Louis Odudu, the Chaplain of the Seat of Wisdom Catholic Chaplaincy of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta State, was kidnapped last week Friday and he escaped on Saturday. The priest was said to have been pronounced dead at a private hospital in Warri, hours after he reportedly complained of pains and demanded to be taken to a hospital . A source said , “He was…

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Indian bishop accused of rape steps aside, requests leave from Vatican

A Catholic bishop in India accused of raping a nun repeatedly over the course of two years has written to the Vatican asking permission to be relieved of his duties as bishop while the case is investigated. “Bishop Franco Mulakkal wrote a letter to Holy Father Pope Francis expressing his desire to step aside temporarily and requested to be relieved from the administration of the Diocese,” the Diocese of Jullundur, which Mulakkal leads, said in a statement released over the weekend and reported by Reuters. The request came days before Sept.…

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Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive to live a consistent witness of morality. “One cannot live a double morality: one for the people of God and another in their own home,” the pope told a group of priests, religious and seminarians in Palermo, Italy, Sept. 15. “No, the witness is only one. The testimony of Jesus always belongs to him. And for his love [the priest] undertakes a daily battle against his vices and against all alienating…

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Pope Francis gives out crucifixes during Angelus

Pope Francis gave a crucifix to every person present at the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, to mark the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrated two days before. “Today, two days after the Feast of the Holy Cross, I thought of giving you who are here in the Square a crucifix,” the Pope said, in his remarks following the Angelus prayer. Around 40,000 silver-plated metal crucifixes were distributed, along with a prayer card with the words (in English, Italian, and Spanish): “The Cross of Christ…

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Pope accepts resignation of US bishop accused of sexual harassment

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and has instructed Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to conduct an investigation into allegations that Bishop Bransfield sexually harassed adults. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, nuncio to the United States, announced Bishop Bransfield’s retirement on September 13 and the appointment of Archbishop Lori as apostolic administrator of Wheeling-Charleston. The Archdiocese of Baltimore released the news that Archbishop Lori had received a specific charge from the Pope to investigate allegations against the bishop. “My primary concern is for…

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Vatican ‘planning response’ to Viganò claims

Members of Pope Francis’s international Council of Cardinals expressed “full solidarity” with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio. Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the council participated in the meeting Sept. 10. The six “expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy…

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