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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:”
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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.”
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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.”
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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:
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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.

Pope's Mass: Prophets are always persecuted, at times even within the Church


During his homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis explained why prophets are always persecuted. He talked about how the Pharisees persecuted and wrote off Jesus. 

"'They said, He goes and eats with sinners, He is not a man of God.' They wrote him off. Why? Because Jesus went out and had others leave that closed off religious environment, that cage. A prophet fights against the people that want to limit the Holy Spirit. This is why they are persecuted, always!”

The Pope added that, sometimes, saints also faced persecution from within the Church. Without mentioning names, he talked about a writer whose books were banned, but is now a Blessed. 

Source: Vatican Radio

When we proclaim the Good News, we will inevitably encounter persecution. This was the focus of Pope Francis’ remarks following the readings of the day at Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. Noting that there are today more martyrs than there were in the early days of the Church, the Holy Father urged the faithful not to be afraid of misunderstanding and persecution.

Reflecting on the whole of salvation history, Pope Francis considered the many episodes of persecution experienced by the prophets, as Jesus himself reminds the Pharisees. "In the history of salvation,” said Pope Francis, "in the time of Israel, even in the Church, the prophets were persecuted.” The prophets were persecuted because they said, "You have taken the wrong path! Return to God’s way.” Pope Francis went on to say that this message is one that those who are in power and have lost their way never find pleasing:

"Today's Gospel is clear, no? Jesus hid, in those last days, because His hour had yet to come – but He knew what end he would make, and how He would make it. Jesus is persecuted from the beginning: when we remember the beginning of his preaching, He returns to His country, goes to the synagogue and preaches. After great adulation, the voices begin almost right away to murmur: ‘But, we know where He comes from… He is one of us… with that authority comes He to teach us? Where did He study?’ [Thus] they write Him off. It is the same old thing: ‘But we know where He is from! Christ, however, when He comes, no one will know where he is from. Write the Lord off, write off the prophet in order to take away his authority.”

The prophets, said Pope Francis, "are all persecuted or misunderstood,” pushed aside – a situation that does not cease to repeat itself after Christ’s death and resurrection, but continues even in the Church. "When we read the lives of the saints, Pope Francis said, "how many misunderstandings [have there been], how many of the saints have suffered persecution… because they were prophets.”:

"Many thinkers in the Church were persecuted, as well. I think of one, now, at this moment, not so far from us: a man of good will, a prophet indeed, who, in his writings reproached the Church for having lost the way of the Lord. He was summoned in short order, his books were placed on the index [the list of works that were banned or restricted to experts because of their problematic, erroneous and even heretical content], they took away his teaching positions – and thus, this man’s life ended – and it was not so long ago. [Now] time has passed, and today he is Blessed. How is it, though, that he, who yesterday was a heretic, is today a Blessed of the Church? It is because yesterday, those who had power wanted to silence him because they did not like what he was saying. Today the Church, who, thanks be to God knows repent, says, ‘No, this man is good!’. Moreover, he is on the way to sainthood: He is a Blessed.”

"All the people whom the Holy Spirit chooses to tell the truth to the People of God suffer persecution,” said Pope Francis – and Jesus "is precisely the model, the icon.” The Lord took upon Himself "all the persecutions of His people.” The Holy Father went on to note that Christians continue to suffer persecution even today. "I dare say,” he added, "that perhaps there are as many or more martyrs now that in the early days,” because they tell the truth and proclaim Christ Jesus to a worldly society in love with ease and desirous of avoiding problems.”:

"There is the death penalty or imprisonment for having the Gospel at home, for teaching the Catechism, today, in some parts of the world. A Catholic from one of these countries told me that they cannot pray together. It is forbidden. People can only pray alone and in secret – but they want to celebrate the Eucharist and how do they do? They throw a birthday party, they pretend to celebrate the birthday there and [have Mass] before the ‘party’. It has happened. When they see the police arrive, they just hide everything and [continue with the birthday party-cover]. Then, when [authorities] leave, they finish the [Mass]. They have to do so, because it is forbidden to pray together: in this very day.”

This history of persecution, he remarked , "is the way of the Lord: it is the path of those who follow the Lord.” Pope Francis went on to say that this story ends as always in Resurrection, though only by passing by way of the Cross. The Holy Father then turned his attention to Fr. Matteo Ricci, SJ, an evangelizer of China, who was not understood, either. "He obeyed as Jesus did, though,” said Pope Francis. "Always,” he continued, "there will be persecutions, misunderstandings. Jesus is Lord, however, and that is the challenge and the Cross of our faith.” The Pope concluded, asking God to give us the grace to go on His way, and if it happens, even with the cross of persecution.”