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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.
Pope Francis

Holy See adopts UN Convention against Corruption

September 23, 2016. Pope Francis has asked the Vatican to be exemplary in the fight against corruption and meet the set international standards in this regard. Therefore, the Secretary of State has announced that the Holy See will conform to the Merida Convention against Corruption. This requires countries to implement anti-corruption measures concerning its laws, institutions and practices. From now on, the Roman Curia and the Vatican City State will review its administrative procedures to align them to the standards set by the Convention. Through this compliance, the Vatican says it hopes to contribute to increased transparency and proper management of public affairs in the international community.

May 2014: Pope Francis travels to the Holy Land


In May, Pope Francis took on a  historical trip to the Holy Land. It was a way to mark 50 years since the embrace between Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. It lasted just a few moments, but it started a new chapter in the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Church. 

First on the list, Pope Francis visited Jordan, where he celebrated a Mass, with thousands of Middle Eastern Catholics. That same day, he made his way to the Jordan river, where Jesus was Baptized. 

Palestine was next on his schedule. The Pope stopped the popemobile and in a highly emotional moment,  prayed before the wall that divides Palestine and Israel.

Throughout the three-day visit, Pope Francis repeatedly asked Israelis and Palestinians to respect each state's right to exist and live peacefully.  

"There is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice”.

The Pope took matters into his own hands. He invited the Presidents of Israel and Palestine to pray together for peace in the Vatican.

"I would like to invite you, President Mahmud Abbas, and President Shimon Peres, to participate along with me, in an intense prayer for peace, asking God for the gift of peace.”

He also visited the Holocaust's museum and memorial in Jerusalem. There he met six survivors of Nazi concentration camps and kissed the hands of each and every one of them. 

In a clear example of inter-religious dialogue, Pope Francis hugged his friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, and the Muslim leader Omar Abboud in front of the Western Wall.

He also celebrated Mass at the Cenacle and visited Mount of Olives. In his return flight, the Pope gave a press conference.  He emphasized his zero-tolerance policy of sexual abuse in the Church. 

"A priest that does this betrays the Body of the Lord, because these priests need to lead this boy, or this girl, this young man, this young woman, to holiness. And this boy, this girl, they trust him. And this priest, instead of leading them to holiness, abuses them. This is very serious.”

This same month,  the Pope acknowledged that  he had wept when he heard that some Christians had been crucified in Syria, at the hands of Muslim extremists. 

"In some countries, if you carry the Gospel, you can go to jail. You can't carry a cross, because you're forced to pay a fine.” 

He also met with the UN's General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.  The Pope asked him to fight social inequality and promote fraternity and solidarity on a global scale. 

"In the case of global political and economic organization, much more needs to be achieved, since an important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is in fact relegated to the status of second-class citizens.”

In May, Pope Francis met for the first time with the Vatican's new Secretariat for the Economy, which is an entity that was founded in February. 

"The Church is aware of Her responsibility to protect and manage Her assets carefully, in light of Her mission of evangelization, with particular care for the needy.”

There were also some endearing moments, like this one, when the Pope greeted this elderly lady in St. Peter's Square.

He also met thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, who made it a point to visit the Vatican for a chance to see the Pope up close.