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CNS Top Stories

Top stories selected throughout each day from Catholic News Service. Catholic News Service provides news from the U.S., Rome and around the world in both English and Spanish, in written coverage, images and video reporting.

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- Cones raised in the air, the crowd gathered for dinner at the Sant'Egidio Community's soup kitchen toasted Pope Francis on his name day, the feast of St. George.

The gelato was offered by the pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as part of h...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

ROME (CNS) -- Cones raised in the air, the crowd gathered for dinner at the Sant'Egidio Community's soup kitchen toasted Pope Francis on his name day, the feast of St. George.

The gelato was offered by the pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as part of his name day celebration April 23. He provided 3,000 servings of ice cream -- mostly vanilla cones with chocolate and nuts on top, but also a few pistachio cones and a couple strawberry ones -- to soup kitchens and homeless shelters around Rome.

"It's not like gelato is the only thing he gives away," said Ruggiero, who passed on the cones because, he said, at his age -- 70-something -- "I'm watching my physique."

"Everything this pope does he does for the poor," Ruggiero told Catholic News Service. "And then there's his smile."

Alberto, roughly the same age, was seated next to Ruggiero for the dinner, which began with a course of gnocchi, then moved on to the main course of veal and potatoes and would normally have finished with fruit. Oranges were the day's offering.

"It's a very charming gesture," said Alberto as he unwrapped his cone at the kitchen in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood.

The two men, along with five other friends, had begun their evening in the tiny Church of San Calisto, where they join in singing evening prayer and prayers for peace twice a month. Then they walk to the soup kitchen nearby for dinner.

One of the seven gentlemen wrote their names in big letters on the paper place mats to save their seats. But there is always room for one more. And they take turns filling each other's water glasses, passing out the food and collecting the dirty plates before the next course.

Across the room, Antonino Siragusa was eating, but also helping to serve. He said he has met the pope "six times. He's a good person, very lively. He smiles and will meet anyone."

Before the meal began, he admitted he had not known it was the pope's name day, but he was glad to hear it.

"I love sweets," he said. "This is great!"

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: April 23, 2018, 9:02 pm

IMAGE: CNS/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie Evans, a seriously ill British toddler, in a last-minute effort to prevent doctors in England from withdrawing life-support.

The Italian foreign ministry, in a brief note April 23, s...

IMAGE: CNS/Vatican Media

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Italian government granted citizenship to Alfie Evans, a seriously ill British toddler, in a last-minute effort to prevent doctors in England from withdrawing life-support.

The Italian foreign ministry, in a brief note April 23, said Angelino Alfano, the foreign minister, and Marco Minniti, the interior minister, "granted Italian citizenship to little Alfie."

"The Italian government hopes that being an Italian citizen would allow the immediate transfer of the baby to Italy," the foreign ministry said.

The baby's parents, Tom Evans and Kate James, lost their latest legal battle April 23 to prevent doctors from removing Alfie's life-support when the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.

Doctors in the U.K. have not been able to make a definitive diagnosis of the 23-month-old child's degenerative neurological condition, but they have said keeping him on life-support would be "futile."

A high court judge backed a lower court's ruling that the hospital can go against the wishes of the family and withdraw life-support.

Tom Evans flew to Rome and met Pope Francis April 18, begging the pope to help get his son "asylum" in Italy. The Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome has offered to care for Alfie. Three specialists from Bambino Gesu had flown to Liverpool and examined Alfie. According to the president of Bambino Gesu, "a positive outcome would be difficult, but the baby's suffering can be alleviated."

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: April 23, 2018, 5:02 pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for an end to violence in Nicaragua after several days of protests against proposed social security legislation led to the deaths of more than two dozen people.

"I express my closeness in pra...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jorge Cabrera, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for an end to violence in Nicaragua after several days of protests against proposed social security legislation led to the deaths of more than two dozen people.

"I express my closeness in prayer to that country and I am united with the bishops in asking that every form of violence end, that a pointless shedding of blood be avoided and that open issues be resolved peacefully and with a sense of responsibility," the pope said April 22 after praying the "Regina Coeli" prayer with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The pope said he was "very worried about what is happening these days in Nicaragua," where citizens took to the streets beginning April 18 after the government announced changes to the nation's social security system.

The proposed overhaul, which would have increased pension contributions while reducing benefits by 5 percent, was scrapped by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega April 22.

Ortega has been heavily criticized for his handling of the crisis, which led to the deaths of 25 people. But despite criticism of the overhaul coming from business leaders, university students and elderly pensioners, the president publicly blamed right-wing groups for the inciting violence.

Outrage spread after a local journalist, Angel Gahona, was shot and killed while broadcasting the protest on Facebook Live. A police officer was also shot in the head during deadly clashes in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

Nicaragua's Catholic bishops called for peaceful demonstrations and sheltered protesters in the cathedral of Managua.

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez of Managua has been outspoken in his support of student protesters who have been targeted. In an April 22 tweet, he urged the president to engage in constructive dialogue.

"President Daniel Ortega, abandon your arrogant attitude, listen to the people, embrace dialogue with sincerity, feel the pain of so many families and contribute to peace in the country," he tweeted.

Bishop Baez also tweeted that he was calling on military and police forces to end the repression against protesters and "to listen to God's voice in their hearts: 'Thou shall not kill!"

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Posted: April 23, 2018, 1:55 pm
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