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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.

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.

Order of Malta disaster aid focused on 'neglected' victims in Philippines


More than a week after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, the situation is still dire. As the extent of the storm damage became clearer, foreign aid agencies poured in to the Philippines to begin helping alleviate the suffering of victims.

But Malteser International was already on the ground by the time the storm hit. Ironically, they arrived in the Philippines in 2008, after two other typhoons pummeled the country. Since then, they'd been leading health and risk prevention programs in the poorest areas.

Office of the Grand Hospitalier, Order of Malta (Italy)
"Malteser International has a big advantage that it works in close connection with the Church, and it is a religious order if you like.”

The organization is the disaster relief branch of the Order of Malta. The sovereign Catholic lay organization has diplomatic relations with over 100 countries. That includes the Philippines. 

Office of the Grand Hospitalier, Order of Malta (Italy)
"There is an ambassador who is a great help because, as ambassadors they can facilitate the customs procedures of help that comes in.” 

They have a team of 25 people on the ground, and they've distributed three tons of medicines, so far. But their work is not focused on Tacloban, the coastal city worst affected by the storm.

Office of the Grand Hospitalier, Order of Malta (Italy)
"Malteser International, very often, instead of focusing where everybody else is focusing, tends to take into consideration nearby places which are less accessible but just as badly hit. Which don't get all the interest, and especially, get all the help that's necessary.” 

The reason for this, they say, goes back to their experience with the Asian Tsunami in 2004, and the lessons they learned from their relief efforts. The victims living on the coast got most of the attention, and as a result, most of the help, while the rest were neglected. 

Office of the Grand Hospitalier, Order of Malta (Italy)
"Malteser International discovered, realized, that the people who were immediately behind these, lets say, rich victims, had also been hit badly by the tsunami. Not directly by the waves, but by the consequences. You know, their fields had been flooded, etc... And all of a sudden, they were the poor people, because they actually needed help too. But nobody had thought of helping them.” 
To date, Malteser International and the Order of Malta have distributed emergency kits, with food and medicine, to over 1000 families. They work closely, not only with their local affiliate in the Philippines, but also with Caritas and the Catholic Church to coordinate their efforts.

As the emergency relief dwindles, Malteser International will remain in the country for a while. As with other natural disasters, they will also provide psychological help. Most importantly, they will train local people to carry out that work, That way, the help can continue, long after the volunteers are gone.

AA/WFP/Order of Malta
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