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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:
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.

Panama Cardinal: I learned about my appointment by a Whatsapp message


At the end of the January 4th Angelus prayer,  Pope Francis read a list of new cardinals. At that moment, Bishop José Luis Lacunza became a future cardinal.

That's when most of the world learned about his appointment. But the first cardinal from Panama found out in a less traditional way.

Bishop of David (Panama)
"My oldest sister sent me a Whatsapp message from Spain. I received it at 6:30 when I was at breakfast. She sent me three messages. 'Hey, do you have something to tell us?'; the second message read, 'The Pope has made new appointments'; The third message read, 'How would it affect you? Call me when you can.' I thought, 'My sister has gone crazy. What has gotten into her...'"

A friend of the Lacunza's sister saw the Angelus on television and let her know. The responsibility to inform the new cardinal then fell to her.

Sister of Cardinal Lacunza
"We sent a Whatsapp that said 'Tato, do you have something to tell? I'm very proud of him, very excited. I'm also concerned. All I hope is that God will grant him the wisdom to help the Pope.”

Bishop Lacunza collaborated with then-Cardinal Bergoglio at the Latin American Episcopal Conference. They worked together to draft the Aparecida document, which is a pastoral guide for the Church in Latin America. He said the document is key to understanding Pope Francis.

Bishop of David (Panama)
"I think that the Pope wants to strengthen the life of the Church in Latin America. He also wants to feel surrounded and accompanied by those who  understand the type of Church he wants. That Church is the one desisgned by the Latin American Episcopal Conference, especially in Aparecida."

These have been very intense days. Not only was there an induction ceremony for new cardinals, but Pope Francis also held a consistory. There, he informed the cardinals of his proposals to simplify the Roman Curia. Cardinal Lacunza summarized his days in Rome with just two words.

Bishop of David (Panama)
"Tired but satisfied."

With the newest cardinals, Latin America now has 21 cardinal electors who are eligible to vote in an eventual Conclave.

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