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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.

Pope Francis' Trip to the U.S: What is expected? Cardinal Wuerl weighs in


The Pope's popularity is soaring among American Catholics. A recent Pew poll showed that nine out of 10 Catholics in the U.S. have a favorable impression of Pope Francis. This will definitely strike a high note when the Pope visits New York, Washington D.C and Philadelphia in late September. 

Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"I think they are hearing the invitation of Pope Francis. The Pope Francis effect is real.” 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is the Archbishop of Washington D.C. Even though there's no denying the Pope's popularity, he will have to face some thorny issues in America.  From divisions on the issue of gay marriage, to the Pope's encyclical on climate change. Then there's also the tension between the White House and the American Conference of Catholic bishops over religious liberty. 

One main issue will be the dwindling number of Christians in the U.S. 

A recent study on the changing religious landscape in America showed that the number of adults who identify as Christian, has dropped nearly eight percentage points in just seven years. The number of Americans who describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or 'nothing in particular' has jumped from 16 percent to 22. 

Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"I hear that and I see that, but I don’t see that among our young people today. I see an increasing number of young people being actively engaged in the Church.”

The visit will combine the pastoral with the political. The Pope will lead the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia to promote the role of the family unit. But he will also travel to Cuba before heading to the U.S. He will meet with  President Barack Obama, address a joint session in Congress and speak before the United Nations in New York. 

Archbishop of Washington D.C 
"He is going to see a multicultural Church. He is going to see the face of the Church throughout the world.” 

Despite the dwindling numbers, the U.S is still the country with the most Christians in the world. When it comes to Catholics, they make up about 24 percent of the population, which breaks down to roughly 78 million people. 

Interestingly, despite the decrease in Christianity,  the number of American seminarians who will be ordained priests increased 25 percent when compared to last year. 

In 2015, 595 American seminarians are expected to become priests, which is up from 477 in 2014.