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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.

Seven questions about the ecology encyclical you were afraid to ask


When Pope Francis announced that his upcoming encyclical would focus on ecology, it immediately became one of the most talked about stories in the world. Not a word has been published, yet the encyclical has already received praise and criticism.

Here are answers to some key questions about the encyclical. 

What is an encyclical?

A papal encyclical is simply a letter written by a Pope. It can be addressed to anyone, from bishops to the entire world. Encyclicals are primarily used as an educational tool. 

Why does it matter?

Popes often communicate through written word. But the encyclical is a particularly important letter. It effectively becomes Catholic doctrine on a specific issue.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"It usually represents a moment of special solemnity or special wake, doctrinal wake. The Pope with the document in question is trying to say something, is trying to get a very clear mark to his papacy and say this is what I think, this is what I want the Church to do.”

How often are encyclicals published?

Encyclicals are a nearly 300-year-old tradition. The first one was published by Pope Benedict XIV in 1740. More than 300 encyclicals have been written since.

Pope John Paul II released 14, which averaged to about one every other year of his papacy. Pope Benedict XVI published three encyclicals during his nearly eight years as Pope. Pope Francis has already released one encyclical about faith. 

What's going to be in the next encyclical?

The document's name is "Laudato Sii” and is taken from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi which praises God for the diversity of Creation. It translates to "Praised Be.”

He has made both political and moral statements about ecology.

November 8, 2014
Meeting with Italian Catholic Scouts
"Living in close contact with nature, as you do, involves not only having respect for it, but also the commitment to aid it. Specifically to eliminate the waste of a society that increasingly tends to dispose of goods that can still be used or that can be donated to people in need.”

October 28, 2014
Meeting World People's Movements
"It's logical: There can be no earth, there can be no ceiling, there can be no work if we don't have peace and if we keep destroying the planet.” 

November 8, 2014
Meeting with Catholic Scouts
"In our time, we cannot ignore the Ecology. It's vital for the survival of mankind. Nor can we reduce the issue to a purely political matter. This carries, a moral dimension that affects everyone. No one can afford to disregard this.” 
Why is it so controversial?

Much of the encyclical's expected content is not very controversial. It's generally agreed upon that respecting nature and taking care of the planet is a good thing.

But the document has become a lightning rod for political debate because Pope Francis is expected to take an official stance on climate change and encourage governments to act. 

Cardinal Peter Turkson helped Pope Francis draft the document. He weighed in on the controversy at a recent press conference.

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
"Some critics want to remind us that we went to the seminary to save souls and not to get involved with these types of issues. But it's really about how well people are convinced of this scientific data that says that the climate is changing. That is where the fight is.”

Is Pope Francis' focus on ecology groundbreaking?

Yes and no.

Of the hundreds of encyclicals, none have ever focused exclusively on ecology. However, the two Popes who came before Pope Francis have made similar arguments about the environment broadly, and climate change specifically. 

More than 25 years ago, Pope John Paul II said that the depletion of the ozone layer had reached "crisis proportions.” Pope Benedict XVI was known as the "Green Pope,” and his Pontifical Academy of Sciences formally urged governments to cut carbon dioxide emissions. 

Will this change anything?

The encyclical's release was intentionally planned to come ahead of a major international climate conference later this year. 

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"I will say it will influence a good bit. Now, people have their own agenda and their own ideas...But I would say it will have an influence, and I think that the fact of the encyclical has been provoking a lot of debate in different parts of the world, at a secular level and also in the Catholic Church itself.”

After all the analysis, debate, and conversation, the encyclical will eventually speak for itself. It will be published June 18th.