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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.”

From Spain to Russia. Why a priest decided to leave it all behind


He actually asked to be transferred. The first option was to go to the country of Kazakhstan, because of its lack of priests, but then things changed.

Pastor,  St. Petersburg (Russia)

"I offered to go to Kazakhstan, but in the end that didn't turn out. So I asked my bishop, 'What now? Where do I go? So we agreed that the next option was Russia.'”

Before staring this new chapter, he decided to first stop in Rome, to receive a blessing from John Paul II.  Just like that, his life changed. He left the Spain's sun behind and instead welcomed Russia's snow.

Pastor,  St. Petersburg (Russia)

"I remember my first day there. I took the subway to go to the Cathedral, where I was going to meet the bishop. We bought a bottle of Coca Cola and during that short trip from the metro to the church, the coke actually froze. It was minus 15, or 16 degrees. So we definitely weren't prepared for that.”

Otests Aleksander says there is no official data on the number of Catholics in Russia, but it's estimated that the number ranges from 600,000 to 1 million, so about point six percent of the population.

Pastor,  St. Petersburg (Russia)

"The Russian government had its list of people it was keeping an eye on. First on the list were the Chechens and then, the Catholics. It was a tense environment and when you went there, the tension was noticeable.”

That tension was quite direct. In fact his parish, St. John the Baptist, was confiscated by the government and at one point it was used as a storage room.

Pastor,  St. Petersburg (Russia)

"When we first arrived, the parish was in a difficult situation. The church was built in 1811. The Soviets eventually confiscated it and turned it into a storage room for bikes. Then in 1984 when a reconstruction came about, called the 'Perestroika,' the church was made into a classical music concert hall, which was much better. In 1991 they slowly began to allow religious celebrations there. But then the government kicked the parish priest out and took the keys. So we had to fight a little to get them back.”

Currently Father Aleksander is also the pastor of another church in Komi, a federal republic that's dependent on Russia. Progress is slow, but real. Each year less than a dozen people from that area convert to Catholicism.

Pastor,  St. Petersburg (Russia)

"There have been many, but I guess it all depends on how you see it. At least for the heart of a pastor there are many, but not enough. It's a good way to actually see how an evangelization should be carried out effectively. About ten people have converted per year. Its a beautiful thing. We've had all types of people.  From people getting baptized, to people converting from the Orthodox and Protestant Church.”

There are many more priests like Father Aleksander, who have left their home country to spread the message of the Gospel in a non Christian country. Instead of promoting the New Evangelization, in a way they find themselves teaching the 'first' evangelization.