Today’s Catholic must-reads: 16/03/11

The newly elected Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai (Bilal Hussein/AP/Press Association Images)

A synod has elected Bishop Bechara Rai of Jbeil as the new patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church.

The Church in Japan has held a group funeral for a Canadian priest and other Catholics killed in last Friday’s disaster.

Japan’s bishops are meeting in Sendai today to discuss their response to the crisis.

The organisers of this year’s World Youth Day are expecting a turnout of 1.5 million people.

UCA News reports on Caritas Pakistan’s work with “transsexuals, transvestites and eunuchs”.

Cardinal Raymond Burke identifies the factors in “the fall of the Christian West” (PDF of full text).

Ashley Samelson McGuire says that Shahbaz Bhatti’s life was “the stuff of saints“.

Jennifer Fulwiler offers a “Catholic’s guide to atheists”.

Robert Kumpel investigates why there are so many ugly Catholic churches.

And the Catholic News Service suggests that we mark St Patrick’s Day by shaving our heads.