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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:

Religious Persecution: Family of slain Pakistani minister, meets with Pope Francis


The mother and brother of a Pakistani Christian minister, who was murdered because of his faith, met with Pope Francis. The son of 87 year old Marta, Shabaaz Bhatti, was killed in his native country, where as a Catholic he was part of the  minority. Now, his family is making sure his legacy lives on. 

Brother of Shabaaz Bhatti
"The Pope was very touched and moved. He closed his eyes, held my mom's hand tightly and hugged her. That speaks volumes.” 

His brother, Shabaaz, was Pakistan's Minister of Minorities. He strongly opposed the country's blasphemy law which criminalizes critiques against Islam. In many cases, the law is used to wrongfully accuse people. It's often used as a tool for personal vendettas against Christians and other minorities. Shabazz killed in 2011, by Muslim extremists

With religious persecution on the rise, Bhatti, who held his brother's government post after he was assassinated, says the current violence in Iraq and Pakistan is much more complicated than it seems. 

Brother of Shabaaz Bhatti
"What's going on in Iraq and Pakistan and other parts of the world, is not solely based on religion. They are terrorists who are using religion as a tool to reach their personal goals. In Pakistan, I've met good Muslims who have supported me as minister.”

At the same time, he fears that radicalized Muslims will turn Pakistan into another Iraq, where persecution and lawlessness seems to have taken over. 

Brother of Shabaaz Bhatti
"That is a possibility, because you're dealing with Muslim terrorists who are also attacking other Muslim minorities. First we have to identify what is triggering this violence, discrimination and division and why people are ultimately being killed.” 

To prevent hatred, he says, education and inter-religious dialogue is key, especially in younger generations. 

Brother of Shabaaz Bhatti
"When children are raised under a radical ideology, and they grow up with suicide bombers, they too become victims of violence. We must help these children.” 

Bhatti says he and his family are still threatened by extremists. So much so, that he's been forced to live between Pakistan and Europe. He says he doesn't feel a sense of revenge over the murder of his brother. Instead, he says he wants to devout his time helping those who cannot defend himself, just like his brother Shahbaz did before he was killed. 

up: PM