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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.

The forgotten Synod on the Family


During a vigil prayer before this year's Synod on the Family, Pope Francis described what he hoped would come from the meeting.

October 3, 2015
"Let us set out once more from Nazareth for a Synod which, more than speaking about the family, can learn from the family, readily acknowledging its dignity, its strength and its value.” 

The Pope chose this focus for his first Synod because of the unique challenges the family faces today. But this isn't the first time bishops have met in Rome to discuss the issue.

As far back as the 1960s, Pope Paul VI wanted to hold a Synod about family issues. He died before he was able to. Pope John Paul I also shared his desire and made plans for a similar Synod during his short pontificate.

Finally, 1980, Pope John Paul II called for a Synod to discuss the Christian family in the modern world. Many of the problems they dealt with are similar to what families face today.

Bishops from developing countries were concerned about how war and government-imposed population control could affect families. Those from the developed world worried more about the rise of divorce rates and different roles for men and women.

While some things stayed the same, much has changed.

Spain's Episcopal Conference, President
"We've witnessed how in the last few decades, issues related to marriage and families have changed. So, the family as we came to know it years back, is going through a deep transformation.”

Many of the problems that only concerned the West at the first Synod have now become global issues.

In 1980, gay marriage wasn't legal anywhere. Today, hundreds of millions of people live in a country where it's allow, and bishops are discussing how to improve outreach to gay Catholics. Gender theory has also become a major issue for the Church.

Another problem that has gotten worse in recent years is the declining number of young people who are getting married.

"Families and Societies” researcher
"Economic uncertainty, poor employment conditions, difficult or almost impossible to access housing, keeps people from moving out of their parents house for a long time. But it is not just those conditions: it's also fear, fear that they will fail.”

Following the 1980 Synod, Pope John Paul II published an apostolic exhortation, Familiaris consortio. It served as a guide for the family at the end of the 20th century.

It describes how families should function in broader society and also in the Church. It encourages families to pray together and says families are responsible for educating their children. Many contemporary issues, such as gay marriage, are not mentioned.

No one knows what Pope Francis will do with this Synod's final document. But if he releases an apostolic exhortation, it will likely be seen as an "update” to Pope John Paul II's, guiding the family into the 21st century.