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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.

Can successful politicians still be good Catholics?


When Pope Francis delivers his address to the United States Congress, he'll be speaking to a group familiar with his message. About nine out of ten members of Congress are Christian. In fact, nearly one third are Catholic.

And the politicians in Congress represent just a fraction of the Catholic politicians in the U.S. There are thousands of city councilmen and women, mayors, state legislators, governors, and other elected officials who identify as Catholic. 

And while these politicians may be familiar with the Pope's ideas, they don't always agree with him.

The Pope's speech to Congress could cause some discomfort for its audience. That's because remaining true to the faith is a challenge for every Catholic politician.

Prof. John Cabot University (Italy)
"There is a real political debate going on, which he is walking straight into. And which he has impacted and he has led in many ways.”

The Pope has spoken forcefully about a diverse range of issues, from global warming, to abortion, to the death penalty.

There are few, if any, Catholic politicians who agree with the Pope on every issue. But does that make them bad Catholics?

It depends on the gravity of the issue and how directly responsible the politician is. A civic leader's position on abortion will come under closer scrutiny than her opinion about zoning ordinances.

Another answer came from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in 2002, when it published a famous note about "The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”

The Note reads, "The social doctrine of the Church is not an intrusion into the government of individual countries. It is a question of the lay Catholic’s duty to be morally coherent, found within one’s conscience, which is one and indivisible.”

While the Church usually does not involve itself in specific policy arguments, it believes that Catholic leaders' views should be coherent with the faith.

This is easier said than done. One prominent Catholic mayor described the "tension” he experiences between his beliefs and his public life.

Mayor of Boston (USA)
"I've had that tension a couple times in my time as a legislator and now as mayor. But again, my relationship with my Church is my spiritual connection with my God. And I think that's important to keep up front. Not saying the Church is right or wrong, or I'm right or wrong, or people are right or wrong, it's just that I'm elected to represent people of all different faiths and people of no faith, so I have to keep that into consideration.”

Today, Catholics are more or less equally divided between the nation's two biggest parties. According to CNN, President Obama won 50 percent of the Catholic vote in 2012. His Republican challenger Mitt Romney won 48 percent.

Neither party can say it fully aligns with the Church's teaching. Democrats are generally more likely to agree with Pope Francis' views on immigration and the environment. Republicans typically join the Pope's opposition to gay marriage and abortion.

These differences have led many Democratic and Republican politicians to say that they live their religious life separately from their public life. A cardinal who helped Pope Francis prepare his ecology encyclical said that this is a mistake.

June 18, 2015
"It is a separation that is a little bit artificial. And I wish that we would move away from such artificial categories and divisions...It is important for politicians to realize they cannot do this with a split personality.”

Catholic politicians often succeed politically at the expense of their personal religious beliefs.

For example, Democrats with national ambitions back abortion rights to gain support from the rest of their party. Likewise, Republicans running for president feel pressure from their political base to take hardline immigration stances.  

Turkson suggested that it's not just politicians who face these kinds of moral dilemmas.

June 18, 2015
"It's a question that at a certain point invites us to make a fundamental decision. What, at the end of the day, is the goal you want?”

The United States remains deeply conflicted on a series of issues, and politicians represent those divisions. But one top U.S. official doesn't think the Pope is necessarily concerned about easing polarization in the country.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
"I don't think the Pope is going there to mend divisions, or whether he's even worried about the differences of opinion in the United States. What I believe he'll do in the United States, as he's done elsewhere, is hold up important values and principles and speak to those.”

During his address to Congress and the United Nations, the Pope will certainly speak about the his and the Church's moral beliefs. The question is: Will he be able to change minds too?