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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.”
Pope Francis

Pope will not be able to travel to Israel on Friday to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres

September 28, 2016. Despite the rumors that Pope Francis will travel to Israel to attend Shimon Peres funeral, the Vatican has issued a statement officially announcing a confirmation for the pope's scheduled visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan will remain as planned on Friday. The pope spoke warmly about the former leader and sent out a telegram of condolences:
Pope Francis

Pope's schedule during his trip to Sweden

September 27, 2016. Pope Francis will travel to Sweden next October 31 and November 1, for the occasion of the Lutheran–Catholic Common Commemoration of the Reformation.This will be the 17th trip of his pontificate.

Third priest found dead in Mexico

September 26, 2016.Mexican priest, Alfredo Lopez Guillen, was found dead this weekend on a rural road about 350 km east of Mexico City, after being allegedly abducted and assaulted in his parish on Monday September 19. This is the third case of violence against priests in Mexico in just one week. On Monday, September 19, Fr. Nabor Jiménez and Fr. José Alfredo Juarez were also kidnapped in the church of Our Lady of Fatima. Hours later they found them lifeless in a ditch in Poza Rica, Veracruz. The Catholic Church wants clarification on the murders, because it is not yet known who could be the alleged perpetrators.

Synod Advocates Christian Unity and Positive Secularism


P. Pierbattista Pizzaballa 
Custos of the Holy Land
"This is a very complicated situation because the West and the Middle East seems a single reality, but it is not. Lebanon has its problems, which are different from those of Israel and Palestine. Not to mention the Gulf, Iraq, Iran ... They are actually quite complex and different. " 

The bishops of the synod proposed a form of "positive secularism" which would separate religion and politics. Their aim is to iron out religious tensions and to counter the violence in Middle East anti-religious movements. 

During the Synod, cardinals, bishops and representatives of various Christian rites present in the Middle East have also reflected on the unity of Christians. They have called to retain the richness of the rituals and traditions of each Church, but without damaging the solidarity. 

One proposal is to celebrate the Christian and Orthodox Easter on the same day.  Another is to make a unique version of the Lord´s Prayer for the two Churches to drive the process of Christian unity. 

P. Pierbattista Pizzaballa 
Custos of the Holy Land 
"Ecumenical dialogue has been one of the main issues. But the ecumenical dialogue is not an abstract reality. In the Middle East this could mean having the religions feasts together and celebrating in common other some traditions." 

Another major theme of this synod has been the role of Catholic educational institutions in the development of peace. 

Card. John Patrick Foley 
Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem 
"These schools are open to everybody, to teach understanding and understanding to build peace. Personally I think the more we do on behalf of Catholic education, not proselytizing, but as souls who work together for understanding and peace, will be for the good of society. " 

In addition to Catholic schools, the synod has also insisted on the formation of the laity and the priesthood in the Eastern rites.  According to the Synod Fathers, the role of lay people is ever increasing and they are learning the importance the laity plays in understanding the reality their churches and communities face in building bridges with Jews and Muslims. 

These proposals will be voted on by the synod participants to draft an official document with the conclusions of the Synod on the Middle East. 

These are daunting challenges for the Eastern Churches.  Although the synod participants are aware that time is needed to carry them out, they have not lost hope in achieving these goals to build a united and peaceful Middle East.