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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.

Pope Francis says goodbye to youngest ambassador to the Holy See


The youngest ambassador accredited to the Holy See bid farewell to the Eternal City. He's now 40, but arrived at the age of 36. Perhaps it's his youth that made Costa Rica's Fernando Sanchez one of the most active diplomats in Rome.

One of his last official acts was saying goodbye to Pope Francis, who thanked him and gave him a special gift.

Ambassador of Costa Rica
"He talked to me right away about Costa Rica, he told me: 'Costa Ricans are now well known,' because of the World Cup. I gave him a jersey of the national team, which read Pope Francis. He was very happy. In the end, my son, who's always been fascinated with the papal hat, brought one for him and they switched. I couldn't ask for anything better.”

Sanchez' son is used to the attention. He gave Benedict XVI flowers when his father presented his letter of credentials in 2010.

Two weeks after after this first meeting, the Pope mentioned Costa Rica twice during the 2010 Christmas Urbi et Orbi message. 

Urbi et Orbi 2010
"May the same hold true not only for those in Colombia and Venezuela, but also in Guatemala and Costa Rica, who recently suffered natural disasters... May it encourage dialogue between Nicaragua and Costa Rica; and may it advance reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.”

He spent less than four years in Rome. But during that time he coordinated three visits by his country's president to the Vatican, even though Benedict XVI dedicated less time to meeting heads of state in his later years.

An ambassador's goals include making his country's presence known. Today, the Vatican's lone parish has a chapel dedicated to the patroness of Costa Rica, Our Lady of the Angels.

He also brokered a partnership between Costa Rica and the Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, a Vatican's hospital founded by Father Pio.

The outgoing ambassador said his successor could finalize pending agreements with the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Library, and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music.

His send off also included a Mass, presided by Card. Antonio Cañizares. Naturally, it took place in the same parish that houses the chapel dedicated to Costa Rica's patroness.

Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship
"At the end of your service, Fernando, you may leave happy. You sought to serve your country and the Church, to serve God. May He help you, may Our Lady of the Angels protect you and your family, and the beloved nation of Costa Rica.”

Sanchez' term coincided with several decisive moments at the Vatican and the world. They included the resignation of Benedict XVI, and the first year of Pope Francis' historic pontificate. 

- PR