An inspiring story of one man’s journey to becoming Catholic

Thousands of people from all walks of life are joining the church this Easter. Many have inspiring stories to tell about their journey to being baptized as a Catholic or becoming a full member of the c hurch. But one especially poignant story is that of an Iraq veteran’s emotional journey. Read about it in this story in The Catholic Accent, newspaper of the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa.

Abuse issue, health care dominate most-viewed CNS stories for March

No surprise here: Stories on the sex abuse crisis in Europe and the health care debate and vote in Washington dominated our monthly list of most-viewed items for March on

1. Pope’s brother apologizes to abuse victims at his former school (March 10)

2. Abuse cases show need for greater women’s role, Vatican newspaper says (March 10)

3. Vatican defends action in case of Wisconsin priest abuser (March 26)

4. There’s an ‘app’ for that: iPhone applications devised for Catholics (March 10)

5. Legionaries acknowledge founder abused seminarians, ask forgiveness (March 26)

6. Second group of nuns backs bishops’ position on health care reform (March 18)

7. Nuns say vote for Senate health bill would be ‘life-affirming’ (March 17)

8. Cardinal praises expanded health care but fears remain on abortion (March 23)

9. House passes health reform; effort to insert abortion language fails (March 22)

10. Vatican intensifies defense of pope on sex abuse decisions (March 29)

USCCB provides $280,000 for temporary chapels in earthquake-ravaged Chile

A priest celebrates Mass for earthquake survivors in front of a damaged church in Constitucion, Chile, March 7. (CNS/Maglio Perez, Reuters)

Twenty temporary chapels will be built in areas affected by the Feb. 27 earthquake in Chile under a $280,000 grant from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The grant will allow the Chilean church to provide worship space in some of the parishes that were heavily damaged during the magnitude 8.8 quake.

Nearly 1 million Chilean Catholics are unable to worship in their home parishes.

Aid to the Church in Need, an international Catholic charity under the guidance of Pope Benedict XVI, is providing 15 additional chapels.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio, chairman on the bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America, said in a statement that the bishops learned of the situation through Aid to the Church in Need and decided to fund the effort.

An architect in Chile has designed a chapel for 150 people that will be used in the areas where churches are no longer usable.

The subcommittee also approved nearly $50,000 in aid to the Chilean Church for pastoral projects related to the crisis caused by the earthquake. Plans call for subcommittee members to visit Chile to assess ways the U.S. church can assist in recovery efforts.

Bishops assess health reform law, executive order

Bishops are continuing to comment on the new health care reform law and President Barack Obama’s executive order intended to guarantee that no federal funding goes to abortions under the new system. And the buzz is overwhelmingly negative.

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, N.D., says the law’s shortcomings in terms of abortion funding and conscience protections are “grave and serious matters” that are not resolved by the executive order. “Where the executive order purports to fix shortcomings in these areas, it is highly likely to be legally invalid; and where the order is highly likely to be legally valid, it does nothing to fix the shortcomings,” he said in a March 30 statement. Bishop Aquila also refers readers of his statement to a legal analysis of the law and executive order by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of General Counsel.

Meanwhile, Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, urged Catholics to look at the health reform debate from a religious/moral perspective rather than a political one.  “Imagine if the political price for the passage of health care reform were the reintroduction of racial segregation in Southern schools,” he writes in the Catholic Chronicle, Toledo diocesan newspaper. “This would rightly lead to moral indignation and block passage of the bill.  However, the murder of 50 million unborn children in our country is seen as a legitimate ‘choice’ and is tossed about like a football in the political field.” Read his full column here.