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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:”
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.

Midterm Report: 7 key Points of the Synod on the Family


The two week Synod is halfway through. For a week now, bishops, families and the Pope himself have discussed some of the challenges faced by modern day families and what the Church can do to help. 

Cardinal Peter Erd , issued a midterm report to summarize the discussion list. He stated that despite the hardships faced by families, there is still much to be hopeful for. 
Archbishop Esztergom-Budapest (Hungary)
"Despite all the signs of families in crisis around the world, the will to have a family is still alive, especially among the youth. This highlights the need for the Church to constantly spread the message of the Gospel and the Family.” 

Perhaps one of the biggest pastoral challenge is loneliness. Cardinal Erd stated that people often feel isolated and helpless. The economic crisis and the cost of living also distances young people  from marriage. 

As far as divorced and re-married couples, there's been a lot of talk about both truth and mercy. Attention has been given to looking at individual cases,  instead of implementing one universal rule for all. Reforms to the annulment process have also been addressed. Also the voice of the laity must be listended to. 

Archbishop of Manila, Philippines 
"In the parishes and in the dioceses, lay people should be heard more often. The pastors should listen to the realities of married life coming from the lay  people. We encourage the families to be missionaries, not only in their own parishes, but even outside.” 

Programs should also be in place to help children of divorced couples as they go through the separation of their parents. 

Bishops have been asked to personally reflect on what they can do in their local dioceses to promote the strength of the family unit and to communicate the message of the Gospel.  

Archbishop of Ayacucho (Perú)
"May we commit to the pastoral care of the family with more determination, so that the homes entrusted to us, can become schools of the Gospel.” 

In regards to homosexuality, the report states that gay people 'have gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.' However, their unions cannot be equated to marriage. Important pastoral outreach programs are also needed to reach out to them. 

"The Church doesn't believe the term 'family' can be used indifferently or that the union between a man and a woman is the same as that between homosexuals. Having said that, it's evident that people involved in different relationships also have rights.”

There is still a week left of the first phase of the Synod. Some bishops will then be summoned again to Rome in October 2015. 

Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops
"In the second phase of the Synod, we will be able to come back to Rome and  discuss those topics that were not addressed this time around.” 

The two week Synod will conclude on October 19th. The second phase of the Synod, where concrete decisions are expected, will take place from October 4th to the 25th, 2015.