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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.”

Catholic and Orthodox Church: A look at why the Pope's visit with Bartholomew was key


It was a moment that lasted only a few seconds, but it was charged with symbolism. 

"As a favor, I will ask you to bless me and the Church of Rome.”  

When the leader of more than 225 million Orthodox Christians, blessed Pope Francis, it meant more than just a moving gesture. 

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
"I think it's not just a symbolic gesture. It's a profound gesture of humility, of recognition that matters, like authority and power are not seen as in the secular world. It was a profound statement of equality between the Pope and the Patriarch. And the Patriarch's reciprocation in Jerusalem was an embrace. Here maybe he was expecting the Pope to do something again spontaneous and he needed to respond in a way that showed that he was not one person over another.” 

In the year 1054 the cultural differences between the East and West led to the division between Orthodox Christians and Catholics.

The relationship between the two Churches was basically non existent for 900 years, but one visit changed everything. In 1964, Pope Paul VI met with Patriarch Athenagoras in the Holy Land, opening a new chapter between Catholics and Orthodox. 

Other visits followed. 

John Paul II took it a step further in his encyclical titled  'Ut Unum Sint.' In it, he proposes a form of papal primacy that the Orthodox Church could accept. 

Benedict XVI also supported this proposal and held meetings with his counterpart. During his papacy, the relationship was stable. So much so that the Patriarch attended Pope Francis' initiation Mass. 

This time around it was Pope Francis who visited the Patriarch's home again.

"I want to assure each and every one of you, that to achieve the complete unity we yearn for, the Catholic Church does not intend to impose any requirement.” 

More than anything, the visit was marked by the Pope's words and intentions. 

Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
"In some ways we could say not much happened here in Istanbul. And in another way we could say it was an earth shattering change. That's why this visit of the Pope is important, because although it's just a visit to a Church, and an embrace to another Bishop, it's a reminder and a commitment to stay together, to stay in dialogue, to stay in communication until we can be one.”

It's not just doctrine that divides Orthodox and Catholics. Prejudices and misunderstandings are also part of the equation. 

Now only time will tell, if full unity will be reached. If so, this visit will surely be marked as an important moment in the process. 

- PR