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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:

Church abuse analyst: 400 priests defrocked is due to stricter Vatican norms


The Vatican made history when its delegation appeared before a United Nations committee to explain their efforts in tackling sex abuse. It was the first time it took questions from an outside group about what it has done to protect children.

Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"In some way, the Holy See has shown that it is committed to the process, committed to the convention it has signed, and is willing to follow also.”

Father Hans Zollner, is the director the Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection. Since 2012, when they organized a symposium on the topic, his center has been at the forefront of sex abuse prevention across parts of the globe.

He said the testimony before the UN Commission for the Protection of the Child shows the Vatican's willingness to clarify its stance, and to make up for past errors when handling abuse cases. 

Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"It's very difficult to convey to the public that when  you talk about the Church you talk about two entities: the Vatican City and the local churches that have to be in accordance with the global law, but they have to take responsibility about what happens at the local level.”

Under the Church's global law, sexual abuse of a child is a crime. But accusations must be dealt with at the local level, before making their way to the Vatican.

According to officials statistics, in 2011 and 2012, about 400 of the cases that made their way to the Vatican ended up with the priests being defrocked, or removed from the priesthood. 

Director, Center for Child Protection (Gregorian University)
"They concerned those priests whose trials had been going on for years, most of them. And whose cases refer back up to 50, 60 years back.” 

Fr. Zollner attributed those cases to the norms implemented in the past three years, to make Church legislation stricter. But he recognized that there is still much more the Church can do, especially in the area of prevention. 

The Pope's new commission, which Cardinal Sean O'Malley announced back in December, is expected to play a big role in that process. However, the Vatican still has not released the exact details of the commission's work, and who will be a part of it.