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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.

February 2013: Benedict XVI leaves the Papacy


On February 11, 2013 Benedict XVI changed the course of the papacy with these unexpected words.

"Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome”.

The Pope explained that, "In order to govern the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

His resignation was valid because he made it with a clear and conscious mind, and before a well- qualified group. It would go into effect 17 days later, on February 28 at 8PM.

The Vatican spokesperson immediately summoned the media to provide more details.

Vatican Spokesperson
"On the 28, at around five in the evening, the Pope will take off on helicopter to Castel Gandalfo. We already knew he would go to Castel Gandolfo, but now we know the exact time. Afterward, the Sede Vacante will start at eight o'clock.” 

His first public appearance after his shocking announcement was the General Audience two days later. He look fragile, but relieved.

"Thank you... Continue to pray for me, for the Church and the future Pope. The Lord will guide him.”

On February 13, he celebrated his last Mass at St. Peter's Basilica. The day was Ash Wednesday. The only dry eyes in the entire building belonged to Benedict XVI

Vatican Secretary of State
"Thank you for having given us a bright example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, that has known at each moment to do what was most important: bring God to man and man to God.”

"For me it is a proper moment to thank everyone, especially the faithful from the Diocese of Rome, while I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and to ask to remember me in prayer.” 

The thunderous applause continued up until Benedict XVI himself intervened.

"Let us return to prayer.”

These days were full of tension for journalists world wide. The Vatican spokesperson thanked them for their work, but he protested that some media described the conclave as an internal power struggle. 

Even the Secretariat of State protested that the cardinals were being pressured with "false or unverifiable” information against certain people and institutions.

Vatican Spokesperson
"Many cases are getting away from the truth, and sometimes there is a lack of tone and dignity.”

In the last Angelus for Benedict XVI, St. Peter's Square was at total capacity. Some people even climbed on to nearby roofs on Via della Conciliazione to catch a glimpse of Benedict XVI as he looked out the window for the last time as Pope.

"If God is asking this of me, it's precisely to continue serving the Church with the same dedication and love with which I have served so far, but in a way that's more suited for my age and strength.

Before his resignation, Benedict XVI made two important decisions. The first was that only his successor would have access to a report three cardinals had prepared on the status of the Curia, as a result of the Vatileaks scandal. Second, he amended a law for the conclave to give cardinals the choice on what day to start.

Vice Camerlengo
"It gives the College of Cardinals, the power to move the date of the Conclave before this window. That is, if all cardinal electors are in Rome.” 

His last official act as Pope was to greet all the cardinals assembled in Rome. During this time he also made a defining statement.

"Among you, in the College of Cardinals is the future Pope, to whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.”

This greeting would be historic.

At five in the evening, local time in Rome, Benedict XVI boarded a helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, where he would spend the next few months.

Bells rung out across Rome to bid him farewell. For 16 minutes, he flew over the Eternal City. Once he arrived at Castel Gandolfo, another large crowd was waiting to hear his last words as Pope.

"I am simply a pilgrim beginning the last leg of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

At 8 p.m., local time, Benedict XVI's resignation went into effect. The Swiss Guards, now at the service of the College of Cardinals, abandoned their post at Castel Gandolfo. At that same time, all high-ranking posts at the Vatican became empty, except for the Camerlengo, the Major Penitentiary and the Vicar of Rome. The Sede Vacante was officially underway.

- PR