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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.

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.

February 2015: The Pope changes things up with his new cardinals


To start off the month of February, the Pope led this google hangout chat with teenagers who have learning disabilities.  

"The use of technology has helped me overcome the problem of getting my thoughts out fast enough. What do you do when you face something difficult?

"First, not get mad. It's not good to get mad. You need to stay calm. Then, I try to find a way to overcome the challenge. If I can't, then I tough it out.” 

"Hey Pope Francis, I'd like to ask you a question. Do you like to take pictures and then download them on your computer?”

 "Do you want me to tell you the truth...I'm pretty bad with computers. I don't know how to manage them. How embarrassing!”

It was part of an educational project supported by the Pope through a program called Scholas. Its mission is to promote the exchange of knowledge and to improve education. 

February was also the month that these showers were installed for the homeless who live on the streets, near the Vatican.

There are several complete bathrooms with a small space for a barber.  The showers are available every day except when there are ceremonies in Saint Peter's Square.

"This is very important for me. At least I'll have the chance to take a shower. That way, I won't smell bad and people hopefully won't judge me when they see me out on the street or on the metro.” 

"This really helps us out a lot. It's great for people like us who don't have a house or any belongings.” 

Volunteer Hairdresser
"They're really grateful to have this opportunity. It's a chance for them to look descent and have a moment of dignity.” 

While he was on  his way to a local parish to celebrate Mass, the Pope decided to stop at alittle known neighborhood in the  outskirts of Rome. He arrived without notice. This is how locals reacted. 

"O God! How exciting!”
"A round of applause.”

Afterwards, they all prayed together. 

"How many of you speak Spanish?”
"All of us.”
"We're from South America.”

He stayed with them for about ten minutes. Before heading out, he made his usual request.

"God bless you, pray for me.”
"We are very happy.”
"Pray for me.”

The most important decision in February was adding a few names to the College of Cardinals. He named 15 new cardinals who have the right to vote in an eventual conclave. With this conclave, Europeans ceased to be the majority.

Benedict XVI participated in the ceremony with little fanfare. He sat next to the rest of the cardinals. The Pope made it a point to personally greet him. 

Pope Francis named cardinals from countries that had never one like Panama, Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde.

The Pope laid out their new responsibilities.

"It is not a kind of accessory, a decoration, like an honorary title. Rather, it is a pivot, a point of support and movement essential for the life of the community.”

Afterwards came the embrace and imposition of the birettas. 

"I think just trying to continue the way Pope Francis is leading the church. And saying to our priests and our people, we have to be out there with the people.” 

"I am sure there will be greater responsibility. But perhaps I think this way more, I am looking forward for more of this richness of the Church, the mystery of the Church.” 

LAUGHS "What I am here now, is almost older than it could be.”

"Satisfied but tired. Or let's say it the other way, tired but satisfied.”

"Thankful to God that I am not alone, because this is a mission we must complete together."

The end of the month coincided with the beginning of Lent, and the Pope led his assistants in spiritual exercises about 20 miles outside of Rome. They spent five days in silence and prayer. The first appointment was at 7:30a.m.  The last was at 7:30p.m. to eat dinner.

Afterwards, they got on a bus and returned together to Rome to resume their daily tasks.