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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.”
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.

Pope sends $150,000, as Vatican sets up fund for victims of super typhoon in Philippines


The death toll is estimated at 10,000, but expected to grow. There are millions affected, and nearly 600,000 people displaced, after Typhoon Haiyan battered the Philippines with 150mph winds and 10-foot tidal waves.

Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis
"People who've flown over the area say they haven't seen similar to this since the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or the Haiti earthquake, so we're talking about a massive catastrophe.”

Such comparisons are proof of the destruction, and the need for immediate assistance. Catholic groups stepped up right away. 

Pope Francis, through the Vatican's Cor Unum Council, agreed to send $150,000 to the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The money will be distributed among the dioceses hardest hit by the storm.

Meanwhile the Vatican's official aid agency, Caritas Internationalis, created a special fund where people can donate to support aid efforts. They also have aid workers on the ground, assessing the damage and helping out victims.

Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis 
"In a disaster of this magnitude, disease can spread very quickly. We're seeing lots of dead bodies on the street, so that's a real concern. So getting water that is clean, and hygiene set up is really key.”

Caritas Internationalis is coordinating with its local affiliate in the Philippines, as well as U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, and the country's government. 

The network of Catholic dioceses and churches in the devout Pacific nation has allowed Caritas to reach victims almost immediately. But the challenge in the coming days is helping out people living in more remote areas.
Communications Director, Caritas Internationalis 
"Our immediate reports are, again, of whole communities being washed away, and the levels of destruction being very high. So those are our real concerns at the moment, to reach those places, which haven't yet been reached, and to provide the assistance the survivors there really need.”

Besides hygiene, the other priorities for Caritas are ensuring people affected by Typhoon Haiyan have access to food and water. They also see an immediate need for housing and counseling. 

And while long-term reconstruction efforts are also on their minds, Caritas Internationalis said the focus, at the moment, is on saving lives. 

AA/WFP/Caritas Manila