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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:

Kidnapped Jesuit Priest, held captive in Afghanistan, is freed and back home


The nightmare is over... After being kidnapped for eight months in Afghanistan, Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, is now free and back home with his family in India.  His friends and colleagues with the Jesuit Refugee Service, got a phone call with the good news. 

Jesuit Refugee Service
"Shock, elation. There has been a lot of tension in the organization. When someone is kidnapped, it’s not just the effect on the people who were closest, it has the effect on the whole way through the organization.” 

The details of his release are not being shared. But at least on one occasion, the captors did ask for a ransom. The Jesuit Refugee Service says the Indian and Afghan government played key roles in his release. 

The 47 year-old Jesuit priest was kidnapped back in June 2014, near the Afghan city of Herat, where he taught in a nearby school. Armed men, with apparent ties to the Taliban, began to threaten him. 

Jesuit Refugee Service
"We know he tried to run and he grabbed him and they pushed him into a car. That’s when his nightmare started. The scars we won’t know about are the wounds which will be the physiological scars.” 

The Jesuit Refugee Service operates in many warn torn countries, including Afghanistan, Northern Iraq and Syria. Security was never overlooked, but Prem Kumar's kidnapping was a wake up call. Since then, security training has increased all around. Especially given the high tension in many Middle Eastern countries. 

Jesuit Refugee Service
"To be able to read those signs when they are changing. We need to have better security mechanisms.To provide our teams with the training, procedures and know how to be able to save lives. Not just their lives but the lives of the people we are serving.”
When asked, about his eight month ordeal, Fr. Prem Kumar said he's not ready to talk about the experience just yet.  He said, he's just happy to be back home. 

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