Donations pour in as suspect is arrested in church heist

Paul Purpura and Ramon Antonio Vargas |

VIOLET, La. (RNS) At Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Violet Tuesday night (Dec. 22), parishioners gasped with astonishment, and a few even cried joyfully, as they faced their organizational task ahead. In the wee hours of Sunday morning, a burglar broke into the St. Bernard Parish church and rifled through about 65 Christmas […]

Vatican says Pius’ elevation not a `hostile act’ toward Jews

Francis X. Rocca |

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A decree moving the controversial wartime Pope Pius XII one step closer to sainthood is not a “hostile act towards the Jewish people,” the Vatican’s top spokesman said Wednesday (Dec. 23). The Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a statement that Pope Benedict XVI’s Saturday decree […]

Grants to fund priests’ education in fast-growing dioceses

G. Jeffrey MacDonald |

(RNS) Roman Catholic seminarians will get a financial boost in 2010 from a charitable organization targeting a chronic shortage of education funding in America’s fastest-growing dioceses. The Catholic Church Extension Society on Tuesday (Dec. 22) announced more than $3 million in grants next year to help train 509 seminarians. That represents more than a 100 […]

Teens carrying the gospel in their hands with `Believer Bands’

Greg Garrison |

HOOVER, Ala. (RNS) First there were the WWJD wristbands, and then Lance Armstrong’s yellow Livestrong wristbands, and Bono’s white One wristbands … Now there’s “Believer Bands,” multicolored rubber bracelets in the shape of familiar Christian icons that allow trend-chasing tweens and teens to share the gospel from the palm of their hand. It started last […]

Wednesday’s roundup

The U.S. Catholic Bishops stepped up their campaign against the Senate’s version of the health care bill, saying it needs to change how abortions are covered and funded in order to “make it morally acceptable.” The final Senate vote on the bill is scheduled for Thursday. ELCA bishops have outlined a number of job creation […]

Christmas pageant evolves but endures

Nancy Haught |

PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Clearly, the length of gold tinsel draped around her neck was not what Melinda Smith was hoping for. “Is this all I get?” she pleaded with Beth Keys, director of the annual interactive Christmas pageant at Portland’s Presbyterian Church of Laurelhurst. Keys disappeared and returned with a long, white gown, its collar […]

10 minutes with …Jack Brown

Adelle M. Banks |

(RNS) Redeemer Covenant Church in Caledonia, Mich., decided on a different set of Christmas decorations this year: Instead of fresh poinsettias and artificial greens, Redeemer’s sanctuary is filled with canned goods and clothing that will be donated to the needy. The Rev. Jack Brown, who pastors the congregation with his wife, Sharon, explained why they […]

COMMENTARY: The Christmas gift you can give to yourself

Cathleen Falsani |

(RNS) The following is an actual exchange, unedited, except to remove the profanity. The setting: Mid-morning at a suburban gift boutique. The time: The week before Christmas. The players: The pleasant store clerk, a 40-something soccer mom-type and me (browsing for stocking stuffers). Enter the frazzled soccer mom. “Some people are unbeLIEVEable!” she says, to […]

GUEST COMMENTARY: An unconscionable oversight

Mary Ann Walsh |

WASHINGTON (RNS) Conscience protection — or perhaps, the lack of it — is a key issue in health care reform. Forcing someone to violate his or her conscience is an act of violence no civilized society should tolerate. U.S. Catholic bishops are seeking conscience protection for two groups: Catholic and other institutions (especially health care […]

Nazarene membership closes in on 2 million

Adelle M. Banks |

(RNS) The Church of the Nazarene reported a total worldwide membership of 1.9 million after adding more than 165,000 new members in 2009. The denomination has a total of 24,285 churches, including established and fledgling congregations. The number of “organized” churches, which are self-sustaining congregations, increased by 1,178 to 17,277. The Rev. David Wilson, general […]