1. Gingrich’s Wife To Be Named Vatican Envoy
By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, May 15, 2017, Pg. A12

Less than two weeks before a potentially tense and diplomatically delicate meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, President Trump has apparently settled on nominating Callista Gingrich, the wife of Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, as the United States ambassador to the Holy See, according to two people close to the president.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment, and the announcement is pending approval from the Office of Government Ethics, according to CNN, which first reported the news on Sunday.

Mr. Gingrich, reached by phone on Sunday evening, declined to confirm or deny that his wife would be nominated, saying only that he and his wife were told to “be very cautious” until an actual nomination was announced.


2. Trump vows to protect Christianity during commencement address

By S.A. Miller, The Washington Times, May 15, 2017, Pg. A4

President Trump on Saturday told the class of 2017 at Liberty University to stay true to their ideals and remember that the United States was built on religious principles.

“In America we don’t worship government, we worship God,” Mr. Trump said, delivering a commencement address in Lynchburg, Virginia, at what is considered the largest Christian university in the world.

He noted the prominent reverence given to God throughout U.S. history, from the prayers of pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock to the oath of office taken by every elected officials and the words recited in the Pledge of Allegiance.

“As long as I’m president, nobody will stop you from practicing your faith,” said Mr. Trump.
He later added that “America is a nation of true believers.”


3. Pope acknowledges 2,000-case backlog in sex abuse cases

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 13, 2017

Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that the Vatican has a 2,000-case backlog in processing clerical sex abuse cases and says criticism of the slow pace was justified. But he says more staff are being added and insists the Vatican is “on the right path.”

Francis was making his first comments about the criticism leveled at the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases by Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned from Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission in March.

Francis didn’t respond to the other issues raised by Collins, including the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which handles abuse cases — to create a tribunal to judge bishops who covered up for pedophile priests. Instead, he focused on explaining why cases can take so long to process.


4. Pope says he’ll seek common ground with Trump, won’t preach

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 13, 2017

Pope Francis says he won’t try to convince U.S. President Donald Trump to soften his policies on immigration and the environment when they meet this month, but wants instead to find common ground and work for peace.

Speculation has swirled about what Trump and Francis will discuss during their May 24 audience.


5. Pope nixes Medjugorje visions but says shrine has benefits

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 13, 2017

Pope Francis has effectively dismissed reports of continuing apparitions of the Virgin Mary at the Medjugorje shrine in southern Bosnia, saying the visions “don’t have much value” even if the shrine itself has helped Catholics find God.

Unlike Fatima or Lourdes, France, the Medjugorge phenomenon has never been declared authentic, in part because the local bishops have long cast doubt on the reliability and interests of the “seers.”


6. Christians Are Leaving the Middle East

By Maria Abi-Habib, The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2017, Pg. A1

Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions.

They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism.

When suicide bomb attacks ripped through two separate Palm Sunday services in Egypt last month, parishioners responded with rage at Islamic State, which claimed the blasts, and at Egyptian state security.

Government forces assigned to the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, neglected to fix a faulty metal detector at the entrance after church guards found a bomb on the grounds just a week before. The double bombing killed at least 45 people, and came despite promises from the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority.

By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3% of the Mideast’s population, down from 4.2% in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. A century before, in 1910, the figure was 13.6%.

The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them to carve out new lives abroad, in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.


7. Pope Canonizes Two Child Visionaries in Fátima, Portugal: Francisco and Jacinta Marto declared saints 100 years after first reporting apparition of Virgin Mary

By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2017, 7:50 PM

Celebrating Mass in Fátima, Portugal, Saturday morning, 100 years after three shepherd children reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary there, Pope Francis canonized two of the visionaries as saints, saying Mary had given them a still-timely warning and message of hope.

Saturday’s Mass began with a rite of canonization, with Bishop António Augusto dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fátima petitioning the pope on behalf of Francisco and Jacinta Marto, the two visionaries who died in childhood, whom the pope then declared should be thereafter “honored among the saints,” drawing prolonged applause from the congregation.

The third Fátima seer, Lúcia Santos, became a nun and lived to the age of 97, dying in 2005. Three years later, Pope Benedict XVI initiated the normally lengthy process that could lead to her canonization.


8. A Vision of 1879 Ireland, a Reward in New York

By Dan Barry, The New York Times, May 13, 2017, Pg. A1

His prominent headstone is already planted, his lifelong distinction chiseled in the blue-black granite:

“Witness to the Apparition at Knock.”

What you choose to believe is up to you. This is merely the story of an Irish immigrant who died without means in Gotham obscurity, then rose to such postlife prominence that, amid considerable pageantry, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, will celebrate his requiem Mass and pray over his new earthly home.

The Knock of 1879 was an out-of-the-way Irish village, where people managed on potatoes and a porridge called stirabout; meat and tea on special occasions only. With Ireland still under British rule, the question of Irish self-governance burned hot, and matters did not cool when the local Catholic pastor sided against tenant farmers in their disputes with landlords.

On the evening of Aug. 21, with the rain lashing, 15 villagers claimed to see holy apparitions on the side of the Catholic church, suddenly aglow. In the center appeared the Virgin Mary, her eyes trained heavenward, and, by her side, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist. The images neither moved nor spoke.

The oldest witness was a woman of about 74; the youngest was a child, John Curry. The boy had been lifted up by an 11-year-old cousin so that he could see over a wall and admire what he called the “grand babies” of an apparition that was said to last two hours.

The years came and went like the pilgrims to the shrine. Mr. Curry grew up and left Knock in search of work. According to a short biography written in 2009 by an Irishman of the same name (who identifies himself as Grandnephew of the Visionary), the young man eventually settled in New York, where he became an attendant at City Hospital on Welfare Island, now known as Roosevelt Island.

In 1932, when he was about 58, the single Mr. Curry moved into a home for the older indigent run by the Little Sisters of the Poor at 213 East 70th Street. He helped with daily Mass and cleaned the dining room

Then came that ecclesiastical summons in 1937, requiring Mr. Curry’s presence in the old O.H.P. Belmont mansion at 477 Madison Avenue, then occupied by the archdiocese. Three “reverend judges,” representing a second Commission of Enquiry in Ireland, asked various questions that elicited extraordinary answers, including: “I seen the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist on the gable of the church.”

He died in 1943 at the age of 68, the last “official visionary” of Knock, and was buried without a headstone in a communal cemetery plot owned by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Farmingdale, on Long Island.

But Knock lives on, thriving on what was said to have occurred in 1879. A continuing stream of pilgrims flows into a basilica, a shrine, a museum, the daily Masses and confessions, a campground, and a village chockablock with religious gift shops.