1. Secretary of State John Kerry declared the violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State a genocide. It’s the first time the United States has declared a genocide since Darfur in 2004, and the move should put pressure on the United Nations to also declare a genocide and refer perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.

2. This Sunday is Palm Sunday! Ever wonder where Churches throughout the United States get their palm leaves every year? Addie Mena investigated.

Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA

3. Political news: We asked moral theologians to weigh in on whether Catholics can, in good conscience, vote for GOP front-runner Donald Trump. And in keeping with the trend of controversy at Catholic universities, Notre Dame was admonished by local Bishop Kevin Rhoades for awarding Vice President Joe Biden their prestigious Laetare Medal, given the politician’s public pro-choice record and support of same-sex marriage.

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4. Pope news: A rare, recent interview with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was released this week, covering a wide range of subjects including support for Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, the need for baptism, and the importance of sharing in Christ’s redeeming love. In his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis once again appealed to world leaders to “open their hearts” and their doors to migrants and refugees fleeing violence, a continuation of his ongoing catechesis on mercy during the jubilee year.

5. It’s (finally) official! After much speculation, the Vatican officially announced September 4 as the date for Mother Teresa’s canonization. The Vatican also announced the canonization dates for four other soon-to-be saints, including Bl. Maria Elisabetta Hesselblad, Bl. Jose Sanchez del Rio, Bl. Stanislaus of Jesus Mary and Bl. Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero.

Briefs: A win for religious liberty – and beards. How #WomenNotObjects is raising awareness about the dangers of objectifying women. In related news, Utah says porn is a public health crisis. Trying to figure out a meatless dish for Good Friday? Put alligator on the menu. Also, an exciting Instagram announcement:

 

On SATURDAY, the Feast of St. Joseph, #PopeFrancis will officially have his own Instagram! Remember to follow him @franciscus! #holla #tweetablePope #instagramablePope

 

A photo posted by Catholic News Agency (@catholicnewsagency) on

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Happy weekend everyone! I’ll leave you with an adorable Vine of the Pope and a new friend: