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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.
Pope Francis

Holy See adopts UN Convention against Corruption

September 23, 2016. Pope Francis has asked the Vatican to be exemplary in the fight against corruption and meet the set international standards in this regard. Therefore, the Secretary of State has announced that the Holy See will conform to the Merida Convention against Corruption. This requires countries to implement anti-corruption measures concerning its laws, institutions and practices. From now on, the Roman Curia and the Vatican City State will review its administrative procedures to align them to the standards set by the Convention. Through this compliance, the Vatican says it hopes to contribute to increased transparency and proper management of public affairs in the international community.

Vatican renews religious freedom, autonomy claims following rulings from European rights court


In the statement, written by the Vatican's Secretariat of State, through it's permanent delegation to the Council of Europe, renews its claims to religious freedom and autonomy in relation to political forces. 

The Vatican's top diplomat, Dominique Mamberti, accused the European Court of violating the European Convention on Human Rights. He said that the Court has forced the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Spain to breach Cannon Law and their own Magisterium in past cases, citing the freedoms of association and expression. 


January 17, 2013 

Below we are publishing the English text of the Note on the Catholic Church's freedom and institutional autonomy presented by Holy See's Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe concerning the cases: Sindicatul "Pastorul cel Bun” versus Romania n° (2330/09) and Fernández-Martínez versus Spain (n° 56030/07) being examined by the European Court of Human Rights.The teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the aspects of religious freedom touched on by the two above-mentioned cases may be presented synthetically as based on the following four principles: 1) the distinction between the Church and the political community; 2) freedom in relation to the State; 3) freedom within the Church; 4) respect for just public order. 

(1). The distinction between the Church and the political community 

The Church recognizes the distinction between the Church and the political community, each of which has distinct ends; the Church is in no way confused with the political community and is not bound to any political system. The political community must see to the common good and ensure that citizens can lead a "calm and peaceful life” in this world. The Church recognizes that it is in the political community that the most complete realization of the common good is to be found (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1910); this is to be understood as "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily” (ibid., n. 1906). It is the State’s task to defend it and ensure the cohesion, unity and organization of society in order that the common good may be realized with the contribution of all citizens and that the material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods necessary for a truly human existence may be made accessible to everyone. The Church, for her part, was founded in order to lead the faithful to their eternal end by means of her teaching, sacraments, prayer and laws.This distinction is based on the words of the Lord Jesus (Christ): "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:21). In their own areas, the political community and the Church are independent of each other and autonomous. When it is a question of areas which have both temporal and spiritual ends, such as marriage or the education of children, the Church is of the view that the civil power should exercise its authority while making sure not to damage the spiritual good of the faithful. The Church and the political community, however, cannot ignore one another; from different points of view they are at the service of the same people. They exercise this service all the more effectively for the good of all the more they strive for healthy mutual cooperation, as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 76).The distinction between the Church and the political community is ensured by respecting their reciprocal autonomy, which conditions their mutual freedom. The limits of this freedom are, for the State, to refrain from adopting measures which could do harm to the eternal salvation of the faithful, and, for the Church, to respect the public order of the State. 

(2). Freedom with respect to the State 

The Church claims no privilege but asks that her freedom to carry out her mission in a pluralist society be fully respected and protected. The Church received this mission and this freedom from Jesus Christ, not from the State. The civil power should thus respect and protect the freedom and autonomy of the Church and in no way prevent her from fully carrying out her mission, which consists in leading the faithful, by her teaching, sacraments, prayers and laws, to their eternal end.The Church’s freedom should be recognized by the civil power with regard to all that concerns her mission, whether it is a matter of the institutional organization of the Church (choice and formation of her co-workers and of the clergy, choice of bishops, internal communication between the Holy See, the bishops and faithful, the founding and governing of institutes of religious life, the publication and distribution of written texts, the possession and administration of temporal goods …), or the fulfilment of her mission towards the faithful (especially by the exercise of her Magisterium, the celebration of public worship, the administration of the sacraments and pastoral care).The Catholic religion exists in and through the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ. When considering the Church’s freedom, primary attention should therefore be given to her collective dimension: the Church is autonomous in her institutional functioning, juridical order and internal administration. With due respect for the imperatives of a just public order, this autonomy should be respected by the civil authorities; this is a condition of religious freedom and the distinction between Church and State. The civil authorities cannot, without committing an abuse of power, interfere in the purely religious domain, for example, by seeking to change the bishop’s decision regarding appointment to a function. 

(3). Freedom within the Church 

The Church is not unaware that certain religions and ideologies can oppress the freedom of their adherents; however, for her part, the Church recognizes the fundamental value of human freedom. The Church sees in every human person a creature endowed with intelligence and free will. The Church sees herself as a space for freedom and prescribes norms intended to guarantee that this freedom is respected. Thus, all religious acts, for validity, require the freedom of the one carrying them out, that is, the engagement of their will. Taken together and apart from their individual significance, these freely accomplished acts aim at giving access to the "freedom of the children of God”. Mutual relations within the Church (such as marriage and religious vows made before God) are governed by this freedom.This freedom has a relation of dependence on the truth ("the truth will make you free”, Jn 8:32): consequently it cannot be invoked to justify an attack on the truth. Thus, a member of the lay faithful or a religious cannot, with regard to the Church, invoke freedom to contest the faith (for example, by adopting public positions against the Magisterium) or to damage the Church (for example, by creating a civil trade union of priests against the will of the Church). It is true that every person is free to contest the Magisterium or the prescriptions and norms of the Church.In case of disagreement, everyone may exercise the recourses provided by canon law and even break off his relations with the Church. Since relations within the Church are, however, essentially spiritual in nature, it is not the State’s role to enter into this area to settle disputes. 

(4). Respect for just public order 

The Church does not ask that religious communities be "lawless” areas, where the laws of the State would cease to apply. The Church recognizes the legitimate competence of civil authorities and jurisdictions to assure the maintenance of public order. This public order should conform to justice. Thus, the State should ensure that religious communities respect morality and just public order. In particular, it should see to it that persons are not subject to inhuman or degrading treatment, that their physical and moral integrity is respected, including the possibility of freely leaving their religious community. This is where the autonomy of the different religious communities is limited, allowing both individual and collective and institutional religious freedom to be guaranteed, while respecting the common good and the cohesion of pluralist societies. Apart from these cases, civil authorities should respect the autonomy of religious communities, by virtue of which these should be free to function and organize themselves according to their own rules.In this regard, it should be borne in mind that the Catholic faith completely respects reason. Christians recognize the distinction between reason and religion, between the natural and supernatural orders, and believe that "grace does not destroy nature”, that is to say, that faith and the other gifts of God never render human nature and the use of human reason useless, not ignore them, but rather promote and encourage them. Christianity, unlike other religions, does not involve formal religious prescriptions (regarding food, vesture, mutilation, etc.) which, were the case to arise, could offend against natural morality and enter into conflict with the law of a religiously neutral State. In any case, Christ taught us to go beyond such purely formal religious prescriptions and replaced them by the living law of charity, a law which, in the natural order, recognizes that conscience has the task of distinguishing between good and evil. Thus, the Catholic Church could not impose any prescription contrary to the just requirements of public order.