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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.

January 2015: an unforgettable trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines


The Pope started off the year by baptizing 33 children in the Sistine Chapel.

The babies behaved very well during the ceremony, but not all of them could hold back their tears. 

They were the children of Vatican employees, the only people who have the privilege of having the Pope baptize their children. 

A few days later, the Pope traveled to Sri Lanka. This is how he was welcomed at the airport. In fact, even elephants were there as part of the show. 

In 2009, the country emerged from 25 years of civil war. The wounds are still open from the conflict that led to the death of 100,000, leaving close to one million as refugees. 

The Pope's central message was one of reconciliation and of the importance of religion as a factor in peace. 

"It is no easy task to overcome the bitter legacy of injustices, hostility and mistrust left by the conflict. It can only be done by overcoming evil with good.”

In Colombo, before half a million people, the Pope canonized the country's first saint: Father José Vaz, who preached in hiding during the 18th century. 

Pope Francis stressed that the new saint worked for peace in a way that transcended religious divisions. This is a particularly important issue where Christians are just 7 percent of the country's 20 million inhabitants. 

The Pope visited the shrine in Madhu, the majority Tamil region of the island, where people of every religion found shelter during the civil war. He asked them to overcome their religious differences to restore a sense of community. 

"Yet only when we come to understand, in the light of the Cross, the evil we are capable of, and have even been a part of, can we experience true remorse and true repentance.”

From Sri Lanka, the Pope flew to the Philippines, which has the third largest Catholic population in the world. At the airport in Manila, he was treated with this extraordinary welcome.

In this country there are more than 200,000 children who were abandoned by their parents. The Pope deviated from his official itinerary to meet them and made a surprise visit to a foster home for homeless children.

He also visited Leyte, the island most affected by hurricane Yolanda in 2014. He went to Tacloban, a city that was completely destroyed. 
When he arrived he encountered a category 2 typhoon, but he didn't leave. He wanted to honor the memory of everyone who had died and of those who lost their families. 

"Many of you have asked the Lord, looking at Him: Why, Lord? And the Lord answers to each one of you, to your heart, Christ responds with his heart. It's the only thing I can tell you. Let us look to Christ, He is the lord and He understands us because He underwent all the trials that we go through.”

In the end, the storm forced him to leave the island long before he had intended. 

"I have to go now. Our flight to Manila was scheduled at five, but there's a category 2 typhoon around, and the pilots told us we must leave at one.”

During his last event in the country he made history. It was this Mass attended by about six million people, the most crowded papal ceremony in living memory.

During the return flight, a journalist asked a question about his views on contraception. Pope Francis said contraception isn't the answer, but rather 'responsible parenthood.' He explained it with very direct words. 

"Some think that, excuse my expression, that in order to be good Catholics they have to be like rabbits. No! Responsible parenthood!” 

Responsible parenthood means that each Catholic should decide in good conscience the number of children they can have. This concept excludes the use of contraceptives. Instead it means that couples should resort to natural family planning methods if necessary.

One of the passengers, a Mexican journalist named Valentina Alazraki, had her birthday that day. The Pope surprised her with a cake and asked her to blow out the candle in front of everyone.