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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:

The Vatican and the Holodomor, the Ukrainian genocide, eighty years later


In his book with his rabbi friend from Buenos Aires, Pope Francis acknowledged the three major genocides of the 20th Century: the Armenians, Ukrainians and Jews. 

And though countries and individuals continue to dispute their existence, 2013 marked 80 years of the lesser known of three, known as the Holodomor.

President, Christian Association of Ukrainians in Italy 
"I first heard about the Holodomor from my grandmother. She told me when she was 12, she would see these very thin people with sunburned faces, that would be out in the fields, picking up whatever was left, inedible, thrown away.”

Former director, Security Service of Ukraine Archives
"Documents found in the archives, analyzed by historians, confirm, without a doubt, that the Holodomor was created by the Soviet regime to repress the will of the Ukrainian people and theirfight for independence.”

In its early years, the Soviet Union faced nationalist uprisings across the union, including in Ukraine. After Joseph Stalin came to power, his socialist policies led to the collectivization of farms

In the fertile farmlands of Ukraine the policy was disastrous, and productivity fell. To make matters worse, Soviet troops seized all crops to sell abroad. What followed was the starvation of an entire country. In fact, the very world Holodomor, means death by hunger.

Former director, Security Service of Ukraine Archives
"Soviet authorities knew people were dying of hunger. But they did everything to kill even more. They not only seized crops, but they took any food, leaving people with nothing.”

An estimated 5 to 7 million people died between 1932 and 1933. As news of the deaths reached world governments, even the newly sovereign Vatican mobilized.

Historian, Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
"The Pope immediately said, these matters must be published so that the world knows. The Osservatore Romano published several articles about this.”

In addition to publicity, Pope Pius XI took more direct action as well. Despite the global economic depression, he allocated funds to send to Ukraine, using his envoy for Soviet relations Msgr. Michel d'Herbigny.

Historian, Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church
"We aren't sure if these funds ever reached their destination. But d'Herbigny also wanted to organize an aid mission as the Vatican had done in the 1920's for Russia. Unfortunately the Soviet government was officially denying the famine.”

Former director, Security Service of Ukraine Archives
"This very behavior from authorities confirms once again, the artificial nature of this famine. Because if they hadn't denied the existence of the famine, they could have asked for help from international and humanitarian groups.”

Today, the Vatican is only one of 24 countries that officially recognizes the Holodomor as genocide. The memory of the millions of people killed in Ukraine is commemorated every fourth Saturday of November. As education on the Holodomor continues, the hope is to avoid it happening again.