Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

Catholic Church of England and Wales

More than 1,000 pilgrims from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will be in Philadelphia to attend the World Meeting of Families Congress. But the bigger draw is the pontiff's first visit to the United States.

Bishop David Zubik announced Wednesday the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh will no longer charge to annul marriages.

The diocese is answering the call of Pope Francis, who previously proposed the elimination of all fees related to sacraments, including marriage, and in this case, the annulment of that union. According to the Rev. Thomas Kunz, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the annulment fees have prevented some Catholics from experiencing the sacraments within the church.

The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh was hoping to raise $125 million in a first of its kind campaign for the diocese “to strengthen parishes and evangelize.”

The Our Campaign for The Church Alive instead brought in $230 million in pledges with nearly $63 million received to date.  “I continued to emphasize this campaign was really not about the money, it was about continuing the work of the church,” said Bishop David Zubik.  “ It (the amount pledged) shows that our people love their faith and are willing to make sacrifices for it.”

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is holding its third annual Fortnight for Freedom, which promotes religious freedoms for all according to the church. This year the theme is freedom to serve the poor and vulnerable, in accordance with the Catholic teachings.

“After extensive analysis and prayer,” the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik has decided to move forward with the closure of four facilities.

He announced Sunday plans to close the Holy Child Catholic Elementary School along with the St. Ignatius, Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Barnabas church buildings.

According to Michael Latusek, superintendent of Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese schools, enrollment for the K-8 school has dwindled over the years.

A 110-year-old church is one of three closing next month as the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh merges two parishes with dwindling membership in the Monongahela River valley.

The historic St. Anthony Church was merged with Transfiguration Church in 2011 to create the new St. Damien of Molokai parish in Monongahela, a depressed former mill town. Both church buildings had remained open as worship sites, however.

Lawyers for the federal government and two Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses say a central question in a lawsuit over Affordable Care Act mandates is how to define a "substantial burden" as it relates to religious beliefs.

The oral arguments took place Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh and Erie dioceses object to the new federal health care law and are suing the federal government to seek an exemption.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Members of the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is taking news about two abuse case settlements to call on the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to better notify the public when a priest has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The priests in question had both worked in Pittsburgh, though the abuse allegations come from other places they worked.