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Pope Francis

Nicolás Maduro meets with the pope in surprise visit to Rome

October 24, 2016. Pope Francis met with Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro. The private visit took place in the midst of the "worrysome political, social, and economic situation the country is going through, which is having serious repercussins in the daily life of the people,” according to a statement from the Vatican.

Holy See and Vietnam begin their 6th bilateral meeting today

October 24, 2016. The sixth meeting between the Holy See and a delegation of Vietnam begins today to improve relations between the two states. The Vatican delegation is headed by Antoine Camilleri, while the head of the Vietnamese delegation is Bui Thanh Son, with Foreign Affairs. The last meeting between the two state delegations was in September 2014.
Pope Francis

Pope to award 2016 Ratzinger Prize to Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles

October 20, 2016. The winners of this year's Ratzinger Prize will be Inos Biffi and Ioannis Kourempeles. The former, an Italian priest, is an expert in Systematic Theology and History of Medieval Theology. The latter is Greek and an Orthodox. He is an expert in History of Dogmas and Dogmatic Theology. He will be the first Orthodox to be awarded the prize given by the Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, considered by many the Nobel Prize of Theology.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis sends his condolences to Thais after the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej

October 14, 2016. Pope Francis has sent a message to the Prime Minister of Thailand to express his condolences for the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was 88 years old, and his reign spanned seven decades. Pope Francis said he is "deeply saddened” and he expresses his closeness to the members of the royal family and the Thai people.
Pope Francis

Pope sends 100,000 dollars for Hurricane Matthew victims

October 14, 2016. Through the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Pope Francis will send $100,000 to the victims of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti. The money will fund relief efforts in the first stages of recovery after the devastating effects of the hurricane. With this gesture, the pope wants to express his "closeness of spirit and fatherly support” to everyone in the affected area.
Pope Francis

Pope authorizes new decrees of heroic virtues for four potential saints

October 11, 2016. Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree of heroic virtues to four people, who are being investigated by the Church for possible sainthood. The decrees were given to the following "Servants of God:”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis rejects death penalty on Twitter: #NoDeathPenalty

October 10, 2016. The Pope has has given his support via Twitter to the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The following message can be read in each of his nine accounts, in their respective languages: "Punishment should necessarily include hope! #NoDeathPenalty.”
Pope Francis

Pope Francis announces Synod about youth and vocation

October 6, 2016. It will be held in 2018 under the name "Youth, faith, and vocational discernment.” Preparations for the second Synod of bishops convened by Pope Francis are well underway.

Theme chosen for 2017 World Communications Day

September 29, 2016. The theme for the 2017 World Communications Day has officially been announced. Coming from the book of Isiah, the theme is: "Fear not, for I am with you: communicating hope and trust in our time.”

Rome celebrates first Mass in Arabic


Starting in 2010, Santa Maria in Cosmedin is celebrating the Gospel in Arabic every Thursday.
For Razer-Francois Bitar of Syria, preaching in ones native tongue is as essential as taking the daily bread.

Razer-Francois Bitar
“Worshipping God is a very personal thing, the relation with your heart and God is something you have to grow up with so how could it be if not in your own language.”

The church belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Many of the worshipers here were born in the Middle East and were born Christian.

Msgr. Mtanius Hadad
Rector of the Basilica

“People tend to think everyone who is from the Middle East is Muslim, but that’s not true, this is a church that speaks Arabic, we are Christian, we were baptized Christian, we are happy.”

But while these parishioners can now practice their faith in their own language, back home, Christians like them are finding it impossible to practice their faith all together. They’re finding themselves as a minority in the place where Christianity was born.

Razer-Francois Bitar
“Christianity came from the Middle East, its roots are almost there from the very beginning of Christ, we in the Middle East want to conserve our faith and practice it among a lot of different religions in the Muslim world.”

Msgr. Mtanius Hadad
Rector of the Basilica

“Slowly since about the 7th century there’s been difficulties. The truth is there have been so many Christians who converted to Islam but it’s impossible for Muslims to convert to Christianity .”

These issues and others including the situation of Catholics in the Middle East and ecumenical dialogue will be addressed later this year at the special synod on the Middle East.  
But for now, Christian Arabs in Rome are  thankful they’re seeing and hearing a sign of progress.