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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:”
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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.”
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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: Growing Old is part of Life. No One is Spared


During his daily morning Mass, Pope Francis talked about the life journey of being young and over time growing old. He explained that the experience of Moses, St. Paul and John the Baptist remind Christians that no one can escape the solitude and anguish that comes at the end of ones life.

"The Apostle starts off with joy and enthusiasm. The enthusiasm of having God. But still, he can't escape decline. It helps me to think about the last days of the Apostle...Three icons come to mind: Moses, John the Baptist and St. Paul. Moses, the courageous leader of the People of God, who fought against his enemies and even against God, to save his people. He's strong! But towards the end, he's alone on Mount Nebo, looking at the promised land, but unable to enter. He couldn't go. Then, there's John the Baptist: At the end of his life, he couldn't escape anguish.” 

The Pope said this scenario reminds him of elderly priests and nuns. He added that their retirement homes remind him of shrines of holiness. He invited all Christians to go visit them

(Source: Vatican Radio)  

Pope Francis commented on the liturgical readings of the day taken from St Paul's Second Letter to Timothy (4:10-17) and from the Gospel of St Luke (10:1-9). The Pope began by noting the contrast between the two passages: The Gospel speaks to us about the "beginning of the apostolic life” when the disciples were "young, strong and joyful”; whereas in Paul's letter to Timothy the Apostle, who has already reached "the evening of his life”, dwells on the end of apostolic life. This contrast, the Pontiff explained, helps us to understand that "every apostle has a joyful, enthusiastic beginning  with God within; but this does not save him from decline”. And, he confided, "it does me great good to think about the decline of the apostle”.

Pope Francis then set forth three icons: of Moses, John the Baptist and Paul. Moses, he said, "was the courageous leader of God's people who struggled against their enemies and even against God to save them. He was strong, but in the end he found himself on Mount Nebo looking toward the promised land” he would never enter. Nor was John the Baptist "spared anguish and distress at the end of his life”. He questioned if he had made a mistake, if he had taken the wrong path, and he even asked his friends to go to Jesus to asked him "are you the one or must we wait for another?”. In the end, "the greatest man born of woman” - as Christ himself had called him – "was subject to  the power of  a weak, drunk and  corrupt governor, an adulterous woman's envy and a dancer's whim”.

 Lastly there is Paul, who confides his bitter disappointment to Timothy. "He was not in the seventh heaven,” Pope Francis said, citing the Apostle's own words to his spiritual son: "my son, Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me; Crescens has gone to Galatia; Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for his is very useful to me; bring the cloak that I left, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message”. He then cited Paul's account of his own trial. "At my first defence no one took my part; all deserted me. But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the Gospel fully”. The icon of Paul captures the eve of every apostle's life: "alone, abandoned, betrayed”; helped only by the Lord who "does not abandon, who does not betray”, since "he is faithful, and he cannot deny himself”.

 The greatness of an apostle, he continued, consists in doing what John the Baptist said: "He must increase and I must decrease”. In fact, Pope Francis continued, the apostle is the one "who gives his life so that the Lord may increase, and in the evening of life he declines”. He noted that this is how it was for Peter also, to whom Jesus said, "when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go”.

 Reflecting on the final phases of the lives of these great figures led Pope Francis to recall the rest homes for priests and religious sisters, which he called "sanctuaries of apostolic life and holiness”. In these homes, he said, one will find "good elderly priests and sisters who live under the weight of solitude, and who wait for the Lord to come to knock at the door of their hearts”. Unfortunately, he said, we tend to forget about these sanctuaries: "they are not beautiful places, because there we see what awaits us”. However, he said, "if we look at them more deeply, they are beautiful” because they house a wealth of humanity. To visit them is to "make a true pilgrimage to a place of apostolic life and holiness”. "These sisters and priests wait for the Lord a little like St Paul did: they are a bit sad, it is true, but they also have a certain peace, their faces alive with joy”.

 The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord to watch over the priests and religious who have reached the evening of their lives so that they might say even once more to the Lord: "yes, Lord, I want to follow you”.