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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:
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.

The Strength of Diplomacy: John Paul II and his meetings with world leaders


John Paul II was one of the most influential people of the 20 century. With that title, comes a lot of responsibility...which includes meeting world leaders. The list is pretty long. Included is Fidel Castro

It was in 1996 that the communist leader visited the Pope at the Vatican. Then the Pope made a historic trip to Cuba in 1998, as Castro progressively loosened the restrictions against the Church and Catholics in the island. 

The tension between the Vatican and the Soviet Union, symbolically came to a close when president, Mikhail Gorbachev visited John Paul II in the Vatican in 1989. Historians agree that John Paul II played a pivotal role in the fall of Communism

Former President of the Soviet Union
 "He like no one else is critical of communism. But also at the same time, he is critical of modern capitalism. He certainly affected the atmosphere and his contribution to ending the cold war is without a doubt great.” 

Of course the Pope was no stranger to royalty. He met with Queen Elizabeth in three occasions. First in 1980, then again in 1982 and in the year 2000. 

He also strengthened the relationship between the Anglican communion and the Catholic Church by meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, including George Carey and his successor Rowan Williams. 

When it comes to American presidents, John Paul II became the first reigning Pontiff to visit the White House. It happened back in 1979 under president Jimmy Carter. He then went on to meet with Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. 

The relationship between both states, greatly improved back in the 80's. 

Late Vatican Nuncio to the U.S.
"Then we established a very good relationship, I would even call it friendly. I would go to the White House, in the first years, I would enter a side door and bring an apostolic delegate, not officially recognized as a representative of the Pope, but then since March 1984, I entered through the main door.” 

As a way to promote inter-religious dialogue, John Paul II visited Morocco in 1985, at the invitation of King Hassan II. In doing so, he became the first Pope to officially visit an Islamic country, at the request of its religious leader. 

That dialogue was promoted over and over again in Assisi, where John Paul II called all religious leaders to promote unity and peace. Among the attendees was the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama, with whom he met several times. 

John Paul II also met with Nelson Mandela three times. The late South African president, publicly said that John Paul II deeply inspired him in the fight for racial equality. 

Back in August 2001, John Paul II met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Castel Gandolfo, as he called for an end to the tension and violence in the Middle East. 

So over the years, it became evident that these meetings with high profile leaders, were much more than just 'photo ops' or casual conversations. Above all else, they carried the weight of diplomacy from the highest religious authority in the world.