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Quake aftermath continues to torment ancient town of Amatrice as the death toll rises

August 25, 2016. Rescue teams continue to work tirelessly with the hope of finding new survivors, but the number of deaths will increase as there are still dozens missing. Italy's civil protection agency has announced that 190 have dead in the affected areas in the province of Rieti are overcome, while 57 were killed in the province of Ascoli. During the night, there have been up to 60 new tremors of between 3 and 4 degrees of magnitude. Rescuers worked overnight in the most affected Arquata del Tronto, Pescada< g> del Tronto, Accumoli< g> and Amatrice. The most dramatic situation exists in Amatrice, the largest municipality affected, and where 2,000 people live, but in the summer months doubles its population with vacationers and many tourists who had come to enjoy the weekend party pasta "amatriciana,” a dish that has its origins here. More than 1,000 people have been displaced by the quake.
World

Grand Ayatollah to Pope Francis: “Thank you for saying Islam is not equal to terrorism”

August 22, 2016. Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi sent a letter to Pope Francis to thank him for his words on the flight back from Poland, a few weeks ago: "It is not right to say that Islam is a terrorist faith.” In his letter, the Shia religious leader has strongly condemned terrorist attacks from fundamentalist Islamic groups. He has also stated that "the vast majority of the Musilm people consider all Takfiri sects to be outside the fold of Islam.” Makarem Shirazi is one of the 64 Grand Ayatollahs in Shia Islam and, as such, one of the highest authorities in matters of Islamic dogma and law.
World

Pope conveys “solidarity and spiritual closeness” for the victims of wildfire in Portugal

August 16, 2016. The fire has killed at least five people and caused hundreds to evacuate their homes. The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed a letter, on behalf of Pope Francis, to the bishop of Funchal, Antonio Carrilho. The letter was read during the celebration of Holy Mass for Our Lady of the Mount, Patroness of Funchal. In the letter, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and sorrow over the loss of life and property in the Portuguese island of Madeira, where wildfires have killed at least five people and caused hundreds to evacuate their homes. Pope Francis conveys "solidarity and spiritual closeness” for the victims and those displaced by the wildfires and prayed for the wounded and asked them to have "courage and consolation in Christian hope” for all involved.
World

Pope sends condolences to North America in wake of Hurricane Earl

August 9, 2016. Pope Francis sent his prayers and condolences to the victims in the wake of Hurricane Earl through a message sent by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The hurricane killed at least 45 people in Mexico and 13 in the Dominican Republic and caused an estimated $50 million in damage.
World

Pope sends his condolences following attack that killed 70 people at a hospital in Pakistan

August 9, 2016. The terrorist attack at Quetta Hospital killed dozens of lawyers and left 120 others injured.
Pope Francis

Pope Francis officially establishes the commission to study the diaconate of women

August 2, 2016. Six women and six men will study the diaconate of women "with regard to the first ages of the Church.”
Vatican

Federico Lombardi appointed new president of The Ratzinger Foundation

Aug. 1, 2016. Today Fr. Lombardi officially ceases to be director of the Vatican Press Office and becomes the president of The Ratzinger Foundation. Father Federico Lombardi will chair the board of the Vatican foundation established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Until now it was run by president Monsignor Giuseppe Scotti. The Ratzinger Foundation promotes the study of theology, organizes cultural and scientific congresses and rewards the work of scholars and researchers in different fields.

Pope on Baptism: It is not the same, a child that has been baptized, than one that has not

2014-01-08

It was an usual, but festive way, to kick off the weekly General Audiences in the new year. Several circus performers took the stage before Pope Francis, complete with juggling, acrobats, unicycles and even ferrets

At one point, even Pope Francis clapped along, visibly happy with their performance. Soon after, he congratulated them and gave them a special message.

POPE FRANCIS
"When you travel from city to city, I ask you to become messengers of joy, messengers of brotherhood, in a society that greatly needs it.”

Also in attendance were over 9,000 pilgrims from all over the world. They came to St. Peter's Square to listen to the Pope talk about the Sacraments. Specifically, he spoke about the importance of Baptism, where people are immersed into the "salvation of Jesus.”

POPE FRANCIS
"It is not a mere formality. It's an act that touches our very existence deeply. It is not the same having a child baptized, than not having the child baptized. It is not the same. It is not the same having a person baptized, than not having a person baptized.”

He added that through their Baptism, Christians become a part of the Church, whom he described as a mother giving birth to her children. Their Baptism allows them to become children of God.

Repeatedly throughout the General Audience, the Pope said knowing the date when they were baptized is as important as knowing their birthday. He also gave all the pilgrims homework for the day.

POPE FRANCIS
"I allow myself to give you advice, more than advice, homework for today. When you get home, search and ask for the date of your Baptism. That way, you will be aware of that beautiful day when you were baptized. Will you do it? I don't sense any enthusiasm. Will you do it? Yes! Because you learn about a joyous occasion.”

As children of God, the Pope said that Baptism gives Christians hope in God and salvation. He said that hope never lets down, and allows people to forgive "those who trespass against us.”

The Vatican once again chose to hold this week's General Audience at the Square, instead of Paul VI Hall. The number of people attending was much higher than the hall's capacity. And as he has done in previous times, the Pope set aside nearly half an hour before the start of the audience to greet people at the Square.


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