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Biden calls bans on transgender treatments for children ‘close to sinful’

Joe Biden / lev radin/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2023 / 17:05 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden criticized Florida’s regulation of transgender medical care for children and ban on gender ideology in the classroom, calling the measures “close to sinful.”

Biden said in an interview with Daily Show guest host Kal Penn: “What’s going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. I mean it’s just terrible what they’re doing.”

Although the president did not specify which laws he was referring to, Republican lawmakers in Florida and other states have introduced bills and regulations to protect children from transgender medical interventions and restrict classroom instruction in gender ideology.

During his interview, Biden added that federal legislation might be necessary to prevent states from adopting certain bills that affect transgender policies related to children. 

“It’s not like, you know, a kid wakes up one morning and says, ‘You know, I decided I want to become a man or I want to become a woman,” the president said. “I mean, what are they thinking about here? They’re human beings, they love and have feelings. … It’s cruel. We [should] make sure we pass [federal] legislation like we passed on same-sex marriage. You mess with that, you’re breaking the law and you’re going to be held accountable.”

In Florida, a ban on transgender surgeries and medications for children, issued by the state’s Board of Medicine, goes into effect March 16. Lawmakers have also proposed legislation banning transgender medical procedures. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that prevents schools from promoting gender ideology through discussions of transgenderism and sexual orientation to young children in kindergarten through third grade. The legislation requires such discussions in later grades to be age appropriate. 

Other states, such as Mississippi, Utah, and South Dakota, have adopted similar legislation to ban sex change operations for children. Most states do not restrict sex change surgery for minors at this time.

Although Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, called the Florida bills “close to sinful,” his interpretation sets him on the opposite side of the issue from the Vatican and Pope Francis.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education on June 10, 2019, published a document titled “Male and Female He Created Them,” which rejects the idea that a person can choose his or her gender.

“There is a need to reaffirm the metaphysical roots of sexual difference, as an anthropological refutation of attempts to negate the male-female duality of human nature, from which the family is generated,” the 31-page document states. 

“The denial of this duality not only erases the vision of human beings as the fruit of an act of creation but creates the idea of the human person as a sort of abstraction who ‘chooses for himself what his nature is to be,’” the document continues, citing Pope Benedict’s Dec. 21, 2012, address to the Roman Curia. 

“Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him,” it continued.

Pope Francis has consistently voiced his opposition to what he calls gender ideology. 

In an interview on March 10 with the Argentine daily newspaper La Nación, just three days before Biden’s interview aired, the pontiff referred to gender ideology as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations.” 

“Why is it dangerous?” Pope Francis said. “Because it blurs differences and the value of men and women. All humanity is the tension of differences. It is to grow through the tension of differences. The question of gender is diluting the differences and making the world the same, all dull, all alike, and that is contrary to the human vocation.”

This is not the only issue on which Biden has strayed from the Catholic faith. During the president’s interview on the Daily Show, he reiterated his support for same-sex marriage and defended his support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which federally recognizes same-sex marriage. The president has also been a staunch supporter of abortion and urged Congress to codify the Roe v. Wade abortion rules into federal law.

Thousands turn out for pro-life march in Spain to oppose laws that threaten human life

Banner of the Yes to Life demonstration held in Madrid on March 12, 2023. / Credit: Nicolás de Cárdenas/ACI Prensa

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 13, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Thousands turned out for the Yes to Life march in Madrid, Spain, on Sunday, where the sponsoring organizations expressed their opposition to “all laws and practices that threaten life and human nature at any moment of its existence, as well as the businesses and ideologies that sustain them.”

The event was held this year somewhat ahead of the usual date of March 25, the International Day for Life, and was supported by more than 500 organizations that are part of the Yes to Life platform.

Various participants carried banners with messages such as “You can’t be a Catholic and support abortion,” “All life is a blessing from God,” “Live out your pregnancy, give life,” “Human rights begin in the womb,” “No mother regrets being one,” and “Abortion leaves women without options.”

The march ended with a rally held on Paseo de la Castellana, a major north-south thoroughfare in Madrid, and was led by influencers José Martín Aguado and Carla Restoy.

The event included the testimonies of two women who found help from pro-lifers when they were about to have an abortion.

Marita took to the mobile stage set up for the occasion with her son Santiago to tell how the father left her when he found out about the pregnancy. The social worker recommended an abortion, but Marita was fortunate to meet volunteers from 40 Days for Life.

“They helped me make the decision. I went over to them myself and asked them for help. I wanted to feel that I was not alone or abandoned and they made me feel that way, that I was safe. And I decided not to go [into the abortion clinic],” she recounted.

“Today I am here with my son, which is the best thing that could have happened to me,” she said to the enthusiastic response of those present.

Also giving her testimony was Melisa, a young woman pregnant with her fourth child. “The social worker [asked] me what am I going to do with so many children, where am I going; that [abortion] is the ideal thing to do,” she related.

However, Melisa left the abortion clinic and talked to the John Paul II Rescuers and More Future Foundation volunteers, who gave her the support she needed to continue with her pregnancy.

The manifesto for the march, which was read by different representatives of the sponsoring organizations, proclaimed that “human beings have the right to life and to be treated as their dignity deserves, from their conception to natural death and at all times and in all circumstances.”

The declaration also pointed to “the greatness of the culture of life and its fruits. A culture that is generous, welcoming, constructive, joyful, that heals wounds and doesn’t give up.”

The manifesto rejected “all laws and practices that threaten life and human nature at any moment of its existence, as well as the businesses and ideologies that sustain them.”

The representatives also demanded “that the biological truth of human life not be covered over” and that “what abortion, euthanasia, attacks on the embryo, [and] gender ideology are should not be lied about, nor should the cruelty, injustice, and pain inflicted by the culture of death be denied.”

The manifesto demanded “that health care be provided to everyone without exception” from the unborn to the sick of all kinds, and appreciation was expressed for the work of the different pro-life groups.

“We support and thank all the people and associations that in different fields of action work for all human life, despite the many difficulties and even persecution,” the proclamation said.

The organizers promised to work so that “no illegitimate and perverse law be in force in our legal system” advocating “that Spain must be an advanced nation, progressive in terms of true rights and conservative of objective and perennial values.”

The march ended with participants releasing balloons into the air following a minute of silence during which only the heartbeat of a baby obtained from a live ultrasound was heard.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Case that could stop half of U.S. abortions set for this Wednesday

null / ivanko80/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2023 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

The first hearing in what could be the most consequential abortion case since the overturning of Roe v. Wade is set for this Wednesday, March 15.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM), along with several other medical organizations and doctors, is suing the Federal Drug Administration for its approval and expansion of the abortion drug mifepristone.

On Jan. 3, the FDA changed its policy to allow pharmacies, such as CVS and Walgreens, to sell mifepristone. Previously, the FDA only allowed certified doctors, clinics, and some mail-order pharmacies to dispense the drug. After the FDA’s policy change, any patient with a prescription can obtain mifepristone from her local retail pharmacy.

Represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), AHM is alleging that the FDA has been recklessly endangering women and young girls for decades by ignoring its own research and testing standards and continuing to expand its mifepristone approval. 

The case is being heard by U.S. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk for the Northern District of Texas, a Trump appointee. 

The Wednesday court date was announced to lawyers involved with the case on Friday. 

Kacsmaryk reportedly planned to not announce the hearing date to the public until Tuesday evening and urged attorneys to not disclose the information to avoid any disruptions to the proceedings. 

According to the New York Times, Kacsmaryk said that court staff have “faced security issues, including death threats.” 

A high-stakes case, if Kacsmaryk rules against the FDA, the administration could be forced to rescind its approval of the drug, bringing its legal distribution to a halt across the country, even in states where abortion remains legal.

Mifepristone is the first of two drugs used in chemical abortions, which account for 53% of all abortions in the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute

The drug works by cutting off nutrients necessary for a fetus to continue developing. A second drug, misoprostol, is then ingested 24 to 48 hours later and induces contractions that expel the dead unborn child.

Mifepristone was first approved in 2000 and is commonly used throughout the country today.

“The abortion industry loves the chemical abortion regimen because it has such low overhead costs; the mother is the abortionist. The supplier of the lethal chemicals still gets paid, but the mother ingests the pills, expels the baby, and disposes of the body on her own,” California Right to Life director Mary Rose Short told CNA.

According to Short, “the abortion pill regimen [in California] is considered such a basic staple that the Democratic Legislature mandated that all state universities provide abortions in their campus health centers.” 

ADF argues that the FDA never conducted thorough tests on mifepristone’s effect on minors, directly harming young girls across the nation who use the drug to this day. 

Dr. Ingrid Skop, an OB-GYN and director of medical affairs at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told CNA in February that “chemical abortion pills are far more dangerous than surgical abortion. They are far more dangerous than the abortion industry has told the American public.”

This is a developing story.

Catholic universities should do more to respond to environmental issues, Vatican cardinal says

Cardinal Michael Czerny. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 13, 2023 / 14:22 pm (CNA).

The cardinal who is seen as Pope Francis’ point man on the environment said in an address at Gonzaga University last week that universities, especially Catholic universities, have a major role to play in constructing a plan to “care for our common home.”

Canadian Jesuit Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, spoke at his alma mater in Spokane, Washington, on March 9. Noting that Catholics are called to celebrate nature as an “expression of the love of a personal God, who brought the universe into being,” Czerny said Pope Francis invites us to follow St. Francis of Assisi in “immersing ourselves in the wonder and awe of nature.”

He asserted that since the 2015 publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’ (On Care for Our Common Home), many people now accept that it is vital to recognize the interconnectedness of the world and the ways in which many of the actions of humans are harming the planet. 

In Laudato Si, Francis decried what he described as a “technocratic paradigm,” whereby humans use science and technology to use and exploit the natural world without a “development in human responsibility, values, and conscience.” He also spoke against a “throwaway culture” that does not take into account the connectedness of living things on earth. 

“We exist only within a web of relationships,” Czerny said, with God, with our neighbor, and with the earth itself. In promoting concern for our neighbors, Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan provides a model for breaking out of tribal attitudes and seeking to help other people. 

In his speech, Czerny quoted extensively from Pope Francis’ two encyclicals Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, (On Fraternity and Social Friendship). “The poor” are mentioned 60 times in Laudato Si’, Czerny said. He called for universities to provide a “concrete, visionary, and courageous response” to the problem of environmental destruction, which he said disproportionately affects the poor. 

“The problem now isn’t ignorance ... the real problem, instead, is indifference and despair,” Czerny said, saying that a spate of climate-related disasters in recent years such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and droughts have helped to open people’s eyes to the issues at hand. 

“All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements, and talents,” Czerny said. “Dialogue and better politics ... are the only, only, only way out.”

He urged Catholic universities to take care to factor in concern for the poor in “research projects, educational curricula, public programming, institutional infrastructures, policies, and practices, and political and social involvements as colleges and universities.”

Czerny also promoted a publication on “Our Common Home” developed by the Vatican and the Stockholm Environment Institute, as well as the Laudato Si’ Action Platform, an initiative Pope Francis launched in 2021. The seven-year plan provides goals, projects, and ideas for implementing environmental sustainability in different sectors of the Church, from religious orders to Catholic schools and hospitals, as well as within individual families. More than 1,000 educational institutions have signed up for the plan, Czerny said.

Above all, he said, it is important for those working to combat environmental degradation to be able to say “our Church is with us.”

A timeline of Pope Francis’ 10 years as pope

Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square, Oct. 5, 2016. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the 265th successor of St. Peter. Here is a timeline of key events during his papacy:


March 13 — About two weeks after Pope Benedict XVI steps down from the papacy, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is elected pope. He takes the papal name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi and proclaims from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica: “Let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another.”

March 14 — The day after he begins his pontificate, Pope Francis returns to his hotel to personally pay his hotel bill and collect his luggage.

July 8 — Pope Francis visits Italy’s island of Lampedusa and meets with a group of 50 migrants, most of whom are young men from Somalia and Eritrea. The island, which is about 200 miles off the coast of Tunisia, is a common entry point for migrants who flee parts of Africa and the Middle East to enter Europe. This is the pope’s first pastoral visit outside of Rome and sets the stage for making reaching out to the peripheries a significant focus.

Pope Francis gives the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 2, 2013.  Elise Harris/CNA.
Pope Francis gives the Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 2, 2013. Elise Harris/CNA.

July 23-28 — Pope Francis visits Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in World Youth Day 2013. More than 3 million people from around the world attend the event.

July 29 — On the return flight from Brazil, Pope Francis gives his first papal news conference and sparks controversy by saying “if a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” The phrase is prompted by a reporter asking the pope a question about priests who have homosexual attraction.

Nov. 24 — Pope Francis publishes his first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The document illustrates the pope’s vision for how to approach evangelization in the modern world.


Feb. 22 — Pope Francis holds his first papal consistory to appoint 19 new cardinals, including ones from countries in the developing world that have never previously been represented in the College of Cardinals, such as Haiti.

March 22 — Pope Francis creates the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The commission works to protect the dignity of minors and vulnerable adults, such as the victims of sexual abuse.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience on Nov. 29, 2014. Bohumil Petrik/CNA.
Pope Francis greets pilgrims during his general audience on Nov. 29, 2014. Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Oct. 5 — The Synod on the Family begins. The bishops discuss a variety of concerns, including single-parent homes, cohabitation, homosexual adoption of children, and interreligious marriages.

Dec. 6 — After facing some pushback for his efforts to reform the Roman Curia, Pope Francis discusses his opinion in an interview with La Nacion, an Argentine news outlet: “Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It’s healthy to get things out into the open, it’s very healthy.”


Jan. 18 — To conclude a trip to Asia, Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Manila, Philippines. Approximately 6 million to 7 million people attend the record-setting Mass, despite heavy rain.

March 23 — Pope Francis visits Naples, Italy, to show the Church’s commitment to helping the fight against corruption and organized crime in the city.

May 24 — To emphasize the Church’s mission to combat global warming and care for the environment, Pope Francis publishes the encyclical Laudato Si’, which urges people to take care of the environment and encourages political action to address climate problems.

Pope Francis at a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on June 17, 2015. Bohumil Petrik.
Pope Francis at a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square on June 17, 2015. Bohumil Petrik.

Sept. 19-22 — Pope Francis visits Cuba and meets with Fidel Castro in the first papal visit to the country since Pope John Paul II in 1998. During his homily, Francis discusses the dignity of the human person: “Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it.”

Sept. 22-27 — After departing from Cuba, Pope Francis makes his first papal visit to the United States. In Washington, D.C., he speaks to a joint session of Congress, in which he urges lawmakers to work toward promoting the common good, and canonizes the Franciscan missionary St. Junípero Serra. He also attends the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which focuses on celebrating the gift of the family.

Oct. 4 — Pope Francis begins the second Synod on the Family to address issues within the modern family, such as single-parent homes, cohabitation, poverty, and abuse.

Oct. 18 — The pope canonizes St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azélie “Zelie” Guérin. The married couple were parents to five nuns, including St. Therese of Lisieux. They are the first married couple to be canonized together.

Dec. 8 — Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy begins. The year focuses on God’s mercy and forgiveness and people’s redemption from sin. The pope delegates certain priests in each diocese to be Missionaries of Mercy who have the authority to forgive sins that are usually reserved for the Holy See.


March 19 — Pope Francis publishes the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which discusses a wide variety of issues facing the modern family based on discussions from the two synods on the family. The pope garners significant controversy from within the Church for comments he makes in Chapter 8 about Communion for the divorced and remarried.

April 16 — After visiting refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis allows three Muslim refugee families to join him on his flight back to Rome. He says the move was not a political statement.

Pope Francis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Feb. 24, 2016.  Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Pope Francis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Feb. 24, 2016. Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

July 26-31 — Pope Francis visits Krakow, Poland, as part of the World Youth Day festivities. About 3 million young Catholic pilgrims from around the world attend.

Sept. 4 — The pope canonizes St. Teresa of Calcutta, who is also known as Mother Teresa. The saint, a nun from Albania, dedicated her life to missionary and charity work, primarily in India.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2 — Pope Francis visits Georgia and Azerbaijan on his 16th trip outside of Rome since the start of his papacy. His trip focuses on Catholic relations with Orthodox Christians and Muslims.

Oct. 4 — Pope Francis makes a surprise visit to Amatrice, Italy, to pray for the victims of an earthquake in central Italy that killed nearly 300 people.


May 12-13 — In another papal trip, Francis travels to Fatima, Portugal, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. May 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition to three children in the city.

July 11 — Pope Francis adds another category of Christian life suitable for the consideration of sainthood: “offering of life.” The category is distinct from martyrdom, which only applies to someone who is killed for his or her faith. The new category applies to those who died prematurely through an offering of their life to God and neighbor.

Pope Francis greets a participant in the World Day of the Poor in Rome, Nov. 16, 2017. L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis greets a participant in the World Day of the Poor in Rome, Nov. 16, 2017. L'Osservatore Romano.

Nov. 19 — On the first-ever World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis eats lunch with 4,000 poor and people in need in Rome.

Nov. 27-Dec. 2 — In another trip to Asia, Pope Francis travels to Myanmar and Bangladesh. He visits landmarks and meets with government officials, Catholic clergy, and Buddhist monks. He also preaches the Gospel and promotes peace in the region.


Jan. 15-21 — The pope takes another trip to Latin America, this time visiting Chile and Peru. The pontiff meets with government officials and members of the clergy while urging the faithful to remain close to the clergy and reject secularism. The Chilean visit leads to controversy over Chilean clergy sex abuse scandals.

Aug. 2 — The Vatican formally revises No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which concerns the death penalty. The previous text suggested the death penalty could be permissible in certain circumstances, but the revision states that the death penalty is “inadmissible.”

Aug. 25 — Archbishop Carlo Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, publishes an 11-page letter calling for the resignation of Pope Francis and accusing him and other Vatican officials of covering up sexual abuse including allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The pope initially does not directly respond to the letter, but nine months after its publication he denies having prior knowledge about McCarrick’s conduct.

Aug. 25-26 — Pope Francis visits Dublin, Ireland, to attend the World Meeting of Families. The theme is “the Gospel of family, joy for the world.”

Pope Francis at the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Ireland.  Daniel Ibanez/CNA.
Pope Francis at the 2018 World Meeting of Families in Ireland. Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Oct. 3-28 — The Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment takes place. The synod focuses on best practices to teach the faith to young people and to help them discern God’s will.


Jan. 22-27 — The third World Youth Day during Pope Francis’ pontificate takes place during these six days in Panama City, Panama. Young Catholics from around the world gather for the event, with approximately 3 million people in attendance.

Feb. 4 — Pope Francis signs a joint document in with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, titled the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” The document focuses on people of different faiths uniting together to live peacefully and advance a culture of mutual respect.

Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, signed a joint declaration on human fraternity during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 4, 2019. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis and Ahmed el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar, signed a joint declaration on human fraternity during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 4, 2019. Vatican Media.

Feb. 21-24 — The Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, which is labeled the Vatican Sexual Abuse Summit, takes place. The meeting focuses on sexual abuse scandals in the Church and emphasizes responsibility, accountability, and transparency.

Oct. 6-27 — The Church holds the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which is also known as the Amazon Synod. The synod is meant to present ways in which the Church can better evangelize the Amazon region but leads to controversy when carved images of a pregnant Amazonian woman, referred to by the pope as Pachamama, are used in several events and displayed in a basilica near the Vatican.

Oct. 13 — St. John Henry Newman, an Anglican convert to Catholicism and a cardinal, is canonized by Pope Francis. Newman’s writings inspired Catholic student associations at nonreligious colleges and universities in the United States and other countries.


March 15 — Pope Francis takes a walking pilgrimage in Rome to the chapel of the crucifix and prays for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. The crucifix was carried through Rome during the plague of 1522.

March 27 — Pope Francis gives an extraordinary “urbi et orbi” blessing in an empty and rain-covered St. Peter’s Square, praying for the world during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pope Francis venerates the miraculous crucifix of San Marcello al Corso in St. Peter's Square during his Urbi et Orbi blessing, March 27, 2020. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis venerates the miraculous crucifix of San Marcello al Corso in St. Peter's Square during his Urbi et Orbi blessing, March 27, 2020. Vatican Media.


March 5-8 — In his first papal trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis becomes the first pope to visit Iraq. On his trip, he signs a joint statement with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemning extremism and promoting peace.

July 3 — Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, is indicted in a Vatican court for embezzlement, money laundering, and other crimes. The pope gives approval for the indictment.

July 4 — Pope Francis undergoes colon surgery for diverticulitis, a common condition in older people. The Vatican releases a statement that assures the pope “reacted well” to the surgery. Francis is released from the hospital after 10 days.

July 16 — Pope Francis issues a motu proprio titled Traditionis Custodes. The document imposes heavy restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.

Dec. 2-6 — The pope travels to Cyprus and Greece. The trip includes another visit to the Greek island of Lesbos to meet with migrants.

Pope Francis greets His Beatitude Ieronymos II in Athens, Greece on Dec. 5, 2021. Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets His Beatitude Ieronymos II in Athens, Greece on Dec. 5, 2021. Vatican Media


Jan. 11 — Pope Francis makes a surprise visit to a record store in Rome called StereoSound. The pope, who has an affinity for classical music, blesses the newly renovated store.

March 19 — The pope promulgates Praedicate Evangelium, which reforms the Roman Curia. The reforms emphasize evangelization and establish more opportunities for the laity to be in leadership positions.

May 5 — Pope Francis is seen in a wheelchair for the first time in public and begins to use one more frequently. The pope has been suffering from knee problems for months.

Pope Francis greeted the crowd in a wheelchair at the end of his general audience on Aug. 3, 2022. Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Pope Francis greeted the crowd in a wheelchair at the end of his general audience on Aug. 3, 2022. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

July 24-30 — In his first papal visit to Canada, Pope Francis apologizes for the harsh treatment of the indigenous Canadians, saying many Christians and members of the Catholic Church were complicit.


Jan. 31-Feb. 5 — Pope Francis travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. During his visit, the pope condemns political violence in the countries and promotes peace. He also participates in an ecumenical prayer service with Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Moderator of the Church of Scotland Iain Greenshields.

Police looking for man who vandalized Connecticut Catholic church

Police have released images from a surveillance camera of a suspect they say vandalized Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Gales Ferry, Connecticut, on March 11, 2023. / Ledyard Police Department

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 11:38 am (CNA).

Police are searching for a man who burglarized and vandalized Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Gales Ferry, Connecticut, early Saturday.

The Ledyard Police Department reported that the man broke into the church, smashing windows and attempting to break into rooms using a crowbar. The police reported that the man further vandalized the church by painting “hateful” messages on the floor of the church meeting hall with black paint and more “hateful speech” on a wall that displayed a large crucifix.

Based on security camera footage from inside the church, police allege the man entered the building at about 1 a.m. Saturday, March 11, and stayed in the building for about two and a half hours. The police believe the man first tried to enter the building by throwing bricks at the front door but was unsuccessful. The police believe the man then walked around the outside of the building and broke windows with bricks, rocks, and religious items before breaking into a window on the north side of the building and entering the church.

Officers were dispatched to the scene at 7:35 on Saturday morning after the church reported the vandalism. The police department obtained images of the man through security camera video. The department has notified the FBI Civil Rights Unit, the Connecticut State Police Hate Crimes Unit, and the New London Judicial District Attorney’s Office, all of which are assisting the police with the investigation.

The police describe the suspect as a male in his mid- to late-20s with dark thinning hair and a distinctive beard with no mustache. The police said the man appeared to be wearing jeans, dark work boots, and a dark-colored winter jacket and was carrying a light-colored military-style backpack.

While police were on scene at Our Lady of Lourdes, at about 7:40 a.m. Ledyard Police Emergency Communications Center received a report that Seabury Anglican Church had a broken window next to the entrance of its church. The police do not believe that the Anglican church had been entered or subjected to any further damage. They suspect the same individual was involved in both incidents.

‘The Office’ star, reacting to cannibal pastor in ‘The Last of Us,’ blasts ‘anti-Christian bias’ in Hollywood

Actor Rainn Wilson on Oct. 6, 2022, in Santa Monica, California. / Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 10:50 am (CNA).

Actor Rainn Wilson, best known for his role as Dwight in the hit TV series “The Office,” criticized Hollywood’s “anti-Christian bias” in a tweet this weekend.

Wilson’s tweet responded to a depiction of a cannibalistic Christian preacher in a new episode of HBO’s popular zombie series “The Last of Us,” starring Pedro Pascal. 

“I do think there is an anti-Christian bias in Hollywood,” Wilson said. “As soon as the David character in ‘The Last of Us’ started reading from the Bible I knew that he was going to be a horrific villain.” 

“Could there be a Bible-reading preacher on a show who is actually loving and kind?” Wilson asked.

Based on an award-winning video game of the same name, “The Last of Us” depicts a post-apocalyptic world in which the main characters are constantly on the run from hordes of zombies and crazed villains.

In one of the latest episodes, a Christian cult led by a preacher named David quotes Scripture to justify their cannibalism.

David the preacher also attempts to rape the show’s main female character, Ellie, who is 14.

Other Twitter users commenting on Wilson’s tweet pointed out that the show changed the character of David from the video game, intentionally making him a preacher to bash Christianity.

“As SOON as the pastor started reading from the Bible I knew he was going to be awful. I was like ‘watch that guy be David the creepy cannibal from the video game.’ And then it was David. Shocked. Surprised. Never seen it before. He wasn’t a pastor in the video game,” one Twitter user responded. 

A Twitter user replying to Wilson’s tweet attacked Catholic priests, saying, “Hey maybe they could do a show about Catholic priests and all their fine work with children. Oh wait…” In response to this tweet, Catholic podcaster Patrick Neve said: “You read ‘anti Christian bias’ and thought he was asking for a demonstration.”

As one of TV’s best-known actors, Wilson’s comments came as a surprise to many who are used to Hollywood’s attacks on Christianity. Wilson is a member of the Baha’i faith and describes himself as a “spiritual being.”

“Defamation of Christianity has become the most unoriginal and tired cliches in movie/TV series storylines. Its prevalence is much more than a bias against an entire people, it is meant to undermine faith and position the secular-minded as only ones with altruistic intentions,” another user responded to Wilson’s tweet.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass, records ‘popecast’ for 10th anniversary

Pope Francis greets pilgrims from the popemobile in St. Peter’s Square on March 8, 2023. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 10:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis marked his 10th anniversary as pope Monday with a private Mass with cardinals and an appearance on what Vatican News has dubbed a “popecast.”

The nine-minute podcast, released only in Italian, was published on the Vatican News website and on Spotify.

“It seems like yesterday,” Francis said, referring to his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013.

“The time is ‘pressurous,’” he continued, making up a word in Italian. “It’s in a hurry. And when you want to seize today, it is already yesterday.”

These past 10 years were lived in this tension, he added.

Pope Francis’ schedule was free of public meetings on March 13 except for a Mass at 8 a.m. in the chapel inside his Vatican residence.

The private Mass at the Santa Marta guesthouse was concelebrated with cardinals. The Vatican did not release any other details, including information about the pope’s homily.

In the “popecast,” Pope Francis said “the most beautiful moment” of his pontificate was with elderly in St. Peter’s Square in 2014.

Some of the most painful moments, instead, were those connected to the horror of war, including visits to military cemeteries, the 2013 prayer vigil for peace in Syria, and others.

He said he hates the fact that in wars such as the one between Russia and Ukraine, many young men, of either side, never get to go home.

The gift he most wants for his anniversary, he said, is “peace.”

EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw: Catholic journalists called to be ‘truth tellers’

EWTN CEO Michael P. Warsaw delivers the keynote address at conclusion of “Journalism in a Post-Truth World,” a conference held March 10-11, 2023, at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by EWTN News and Franciscan University of Steubenville. / Shannon Mullen/CNA

Washington D.C., Mar 13, 2023 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Catholic journalists are “called to do our part to be truth tellers,” even in the face of rising intolerance toward religious belief, traditional moral values, and the very idea that objective truth even exists, EWTN CEO Michael P. Warsaw said Saturday.

The head of the world’s largest religious media network, which includes CNA and the National Catholic Register, Warsaw delivered the keynote address at the conclusion of “Journalism in a Post-Truth World,” a conference held March 10-11 at the Museum of the Bible co-sponsored by EWTN News and Franciscan University of Steubenville.

His speech, titled “Communicating the Truth in a Post-Truth World,” touched on the problem of “fake news,” the public’s fixation with “echo chamber” news outlets that pander to their audiences’ preconceived opinions in the interest of ratings and “clicks” rather than truth, and efforts by Big Tech and others to silence those who speak out against abortion, gender ideology, and other media-driven causes that promote a relativistic, secularized worldview.

“Post-truth,” Warsaw explained, quoting from the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” 

“As Catholics, all of this presents us with great challenges,” Warsaw said.

“Whether it is the spread of fake news itself, the increasing secularization of our culture, the growing skepticism with facts and data, the increasing hostility among cultural elites toward Catholicism and religion in general, the challenges to preaching the Gospel in this current age are massive,” he said.

“For EWTN and our news division in particular, these days have been particularly difficult,” Warsaw acknowledged.

“Balancing our love for the Church, our mission to preach the Gospel, and our duty to help bring light to the darkness by accurate and truthful reporting has brought us much criticism, even from the highest levels of the Church,” he said.

“We have been attacked from both the left and the right,” he said. “We have been denounced as reporting ‘fake news’ when we indeed reported facts. We have been criticized for pointing to centuries of doctrine and tradition when calling into question statements by prelates — and even cardinals — and conferences of bishops abroad,” he said.

‘Cover yourself with prayer’

A variety of journalists addressed these challenges in panel discussions held over the two-day conference.

In one of the panels March 10, Carl Cannon from RealClearPolitics, Mary Margaret Olohan from The Daily Signal, and Clemente Lisi, a former newspaper editor and current journalism professor at King’s College, discussed media bias and the need for objectivity in reporting.

On Saturday, religion reporter Lauren Green of Fox News; Jeremiah Poff, an education reporter for the Washington Examiner; and Teresa Tomeo, a Catholic talk show host, continued that theme.

“What you see in secular media, they try to create an unoffensive Jesus, a Jesus who’s just a teacher of love, not the Jesus who says, ‘I’m the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me.’ They don’t like that Jesus,” Green said.

The secular media, she added, “are very comfortable with people who are ‘spiritually searching’ … as if to say you can’t find the truth out there … [but] very uncomfortable with people who say, ‘I have found that truth, and it’s Jesus.’”

Jeremiah Poff, a reporter with the Washington Examiner (right), speaks on March 11, 2023, at “Journalism in a Post-Truth World,” a conference held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., as Fox News' Lauren Green (left) looks on. Shannon Mullen/CNA
Jeremiah Poff, a reporter with the Washington Examiner (right), speaks on March 11, 2023, at “Journalism in a Post-Truth World,” a conference held at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., as Fox News' Lauren Green (left) looks on. Shannon Mullen/CNA

The three panelists also discussed the importance of a strong faith while working in the news media.

Tomeo related how her Catholic values put her at odds with her news editors at the Detroit television station where she worked, who espoused the view that “if it bleeds it leads.” Ultimately, she lost her job, she said, but she wound up with a much better one, and a much larger platform.

“There will be sacrifices,” she said, but “God does reward you for being faithful.”

Her advice to journalists: “You need to cover yourself in prayer, and have others cover you in prayer, as well” because a newsroom can be a very “toxic” and stressful place, and often hostile to people with deeply held religious convictions.

Poff, a 2019 Franciscan University graduate, agreed, saying he makes a point of saying a daily rosary and attending Mass regularly. 

“I cover a lot of spiritually taxing issues. I cover gender identity issues in schools and I’ve gotten plenty of nasty emails and tweets because of the things I write about, and I don’t think I’d be able to endure it to the extent that I do if it weren’t for my faith,” he said.

‘We press on’

In his keynote address, Warsaw said while recent trends in journalism and the wider society can be discouraging, “we also know … that God created the human heart to seek after beauty, truth, and goodness. And that is what the Church has to offer in this moment, even when the Church herself has challenges.”

What such times demand, especially of Catholic journalists, are courage and fortitude, Warsaw said, as well as a commitment to the highest standards of ethical journalism.

As Catholics, we must remember “that we have science and reason on our side,” he said.

“As with both abortion and the transgender movement, biology, medicine, and common sense are some of our greatest tools to educate, inform, and open the eyes of an increasingly bewildered and confused culture,” Warsaw said. The EWTN CEO also encouraged his audience to find common ground and build alliances with “unlikely allies.”

“So, what do we do in the face of these adversities? We press on,” Warsaw said.

“In these challenging times, amid our post-truth society, we should not allow ourselves to despair or to be discouraged. And as Catholics we know that it is the Good News which will prevail,” he emphasized. 

“In the end, amidst all the challenges of social media platforms and information chains, there is the human heart, ever in need of conversion, conversion to live out the Truth,” Warsaw concluded. “As Catholics, we will always have on our side the natural authenticity and attractiveness of the Truth — the Truth who is Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Report: Nicaragua to close Vatican embassy in Managua, Nicaraguan embassy to Holy See

The faithful in Nicaragua participate in a pilgrimage in support of the bishops, July 28, 2018. / Photo credit: Javier Ruiz / Facebook Archdiocese of Managua

Rome Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 04:15 am (CNA).

The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, has ordered the closing of the Vatican embassy in Managua and the Nicaraguan embassy to the Holy See in Rome, according to Reuters.

The government of Nicaragua said March 12 that it had proposed “a suspension of relations” with the Holy See, the Associated Press reported.

According to the AP, Vatican sources confirmed there had been a request from Nicaragua to shut down the two embassies.

The proposal to suspend relations between the Vatican and Nicaragua follows just days after Pope Francis likened Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to Nazi Germany in an interview. He also called Ortega “unstable.”

The Nicaraguan government expelled the Vatican ambassador from the country one year ago, a decision the Vatican called at the time an “incomprehensible” and “unjustified unilateral measure.”

The Vatican embassy, called a nunciature, has been run by a chargé d’affaires since early March 2022.

The pope’s comments about Nicaragua’s dictatorship were published on March 10 by the Spanish-language news outlet Infobae.

In the interview, Francis spoke about Nicaragua’s Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison by Ortega’s dictatorship last month. He said: “It is something out of line with reality; it is as if we were bringing back the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935.”

“They are a type of vulgar dictatorships,” he added, also using the Argentine word “guarangas,” meaning “rude.”

“With much respect, I have no choice but to think that the person who leads [Ortega] is unstable,” Francis said, according to the interview transcript.

Speaking of Álvarez, he said: “Here we have a bishop in prison, a very serious man, very capable. He wanted to give witness and did not accept exile.”

The pope said last month during his Sunday Angelus that the bishop’s imprisonment had deeply grieved him.

Álvarez, an outspoken critic of Ortega’s regime, was charged with being a “traitor of the homeland” on Feb. 10.

Ortega’s government has in recent years detained, imprisoned, and likely tortured numerous Catholic leaders, including at least one bishop and several priests. His government has also taken action to repress Catholic radio and television stations, and driven Catholic religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, from the country.

Ortega, who leads Nicaragua’s socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front party, has governed Nicaragua continuously since 2007 along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is now the vice president. The regime has variously been accused of corruption, voter fraud, imprisoning critical dissenters and journalists, and committing violent human rights abuses against the people of Nicaragua.

This story was updated at 7:35 a.m. MDT on March 13, 2023.