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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 plants a 'virtual olive tree' as a sign of peace

2014-03-21

Pope Francis met with leaders of the so called 'Scholas Occurrentes' initiative at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta. Since the mission of the papal project is to promote peace, the Pope planted a virtual olive tree. As usual, soccer made its way into the conversation. 

POPE FRANCIS
"A short time ago, I met someone here at the Vatican who has a very important role in Brazil...It was a quick visit, but this person wanted to greet me. She highlighted one word: 'Neutrality.' Remember that the World Cup is ours. I said, 'Why do you say that?' And she replied, 'Last time the San Lorenzo team was behind, but you prayed for them and they won. So stop praying for Argentina.'” 

Ever since then hundreds of people have joined in this project, which promotes an international exchange of information and resources. Some have even planted their own virtual olive tree through www.educacionporlapaz.org

In an improvised speech, the Pope praised this initiative for helping kids and vouching for a better future. With high unemployment rates, the Pope said he feels the pain of those who are still looking for a job, adding that he appreciates the support of teachers, soccer stars and technology to make it all happen.

In fact, two huge soccer stars, Messi and Buffon, helped launched the program, so it's only fitting that soccer be a huge part of it. The next big event will be an inter-religious soccer game and the World Cup in Brazil will also be full of surprises. 

Also joining the project is FIFA, who will promote the creation of this network of schools which will facilitate the exchange experiences and information among students. 

ENRIQUE PALMEYRO
Director, Scholas Occurrentes
"The FIFA, which is the International Federation of Football and the FIFPRO, meaning the World Footballers' Association are joining in to help the project, specifically to help out these kids.” 

The Pope approved the project back in August, and he got a little bit of help from Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon, soccer captains of Argentina and Italy, respectively. 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL
Director, Scholas Occurrentes 
"It's a way for all soccer players to say they are on board with the project and with the Pope's initiative. That was the underlining message when Messi and Buffon gave him an olive tree.” 

The idea is that through education and a cultural exchange, they can promote peace. 

ENRIQUE PALMEYRO
Director, Scholas Occurrentes
"The initiative doesn't discriminate against anyone, so Muslims, Jews, Christians, other religions and even those without one. Everyone is welcomed under this initiative.” 

JOSÉ MARÍA DEL CORRAL
Director, Scholas Occurrentes 
"We're vouching for all children so that they can all be included in this program. That includes those 60 million kids who are out on the limits.” 

Later that day, Pope Francis sent out a tweet to show his support for the project and for the very first time, he included the name of an organization in his tweet, by writing out 'Scholas.'


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