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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.

Filipino priest flies back home, after his town is destroyed by typhoon


Fr. Erwin Balagapo is from Tacloban. That's a coastal Filipino city that was basically destroyed  by the deadly typhoon. 

He now lives in Rome, at the Pontifical Filipino College, where he's finishing up his ecclesiastical studies. But the books will have to wait. He has decided to return to his native Philippines. In fact for days,  Fr. Erwin didn't know whether his family was dead or alive. 

"Before the typhoon struck, I spoke with my family, specifically with my sister. My parents were also there, the night before the storm hit. They said, 'it's sunny and calm right now, but we're prepared.”

Arriving to the disaster areas isn't easy. The nearest airport to the city was damaged and all communications lines are down.

"I have my congregation and my parents on my mind. So right away, I looked for ways to get in touch with them. I called my archbishop, I called the priests who are there. I also saw on the Internet a photo of one of my colleagues at the seminary. They're searching for him. Now, I've spent five days without any news from them. Of course, I pray so that they're OK. But with 10,000 people dead... ”

His plan is to fly out to Manila. Once there, he will get in touch with a soldier, who will allow him to board one of many military planes headed to the area to help out. 

They've also told him to have his stole handy, since he will likely be busy.

"They told me that if people see a priest, they will ask for blessings. I can imagine the type of help that as a priest I can provide. I'm scared. I don't know what awaits me there, in my home. But I hope to see my parents. I'm picturing now my mother's face, my father's, my sister who was here, and my brother, who's in Bohol helping. Then there's my nephew.. But in the end, it's in God's hands, right? It may not be easy to say it, but it is the Year of Faith, after all, right?”

Fortunately for Fr. Erwin, his search for answers ended just hours before he flew out. At 5 a.m. on Wednesday, his brother called. Their conversation was just 25 seconds long, since the  call dropped. But he managed to hear that his parents are OK. At ease, and more hopeful, he's still plans to head out to the Philippines.

The priest said that when things start getting back to normal in his hometown, he'll consider returning to Rome. But for now, he's headed where he's needed most.

AA / Caritas Manila