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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.

July 2015: Pope Francis sweeps through South America


In July, the Pope made an unforgettable journey through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. As he exited the plane in Quito, he was welcomed by a choir of children with hearing disabilities.

President of Ecuador
"In fact, the Pope is Argentinian, God may be Brazilian, but without a doubt, paradise is Ecuador. Welcome Your Holiness.”

His first Mass of the trip was held in the park of Guayaquil. Hundreds of thousands of people from Ecuador were present, in addition to citizens of Peru, Argentina, Colombia and even Puerto Rico.

"The family is the nearest hospital, when one is sick, they are caregivers who help as they can. The family is the first school for the young, the essential point of reference for young people, the best home for the elderly. The family constitutes the best 'social capital.' It cannot be replaced by other institutions. It needs to be helped and strengthened.”

For his last stop in Ecuador, Pope Francis had an endearing and urgent encounter with religious at the Shrine of Our Lady of El Quinche.

"Not that I have my time. I have my things. I have this, no. Now, I close the office. I would have gone to bless houses but I'm tired today, so I watch a nice soap opera on television for the nuns. Service. Serve, serve, and don't do anything else.” 

The Pope also flew to Bolivia, and when he arrived at the airport of El Alto, at 4,000 meters, he was greeted by tens of thousands of natives.

Later, in his official meeting with Evo Morales, the president gave him this curious crucifix, a gift that was talked about frequently.

The Pope clarified that it was considered a work of protest, and was designed in 1981, before the Holy See had condemned the Marxist interpretation of theology.

In Bolivia, the Pope met with representatives of popular movements around the world to discuss solutions to problems such as unemployment, climate and housing. Pope Francis denounced the new forms of colonialism in which entire peoples merely become suppliers of raw materials and never experience growth. 

"Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than serves.”

The most emotional stop was at the Palmasola prison, one of the most dangerous in the world. Inside, there are more than 2,800 prisoners and some families.

"To begin, I want to ask for forgiveness to all the people I've hurt. To my family who, since my sentence two years ago, have stood by me and have had to work hard to ask for loans to pay a lawyer, who ended up taking advantage of them and other clients.”

"Do not be afraid to help each other. The devil is looking for rivalry, division, gangs. Keep working towards progress.”

The Pope was moved when one of the two girls sitting on the stage came up to him and gave him a hug. From Bolivia he left for Paraguay, where the music never stopped as the Pope left the plane.

Pope Francis then visited el Bañado Norte, a poor area on the outskirts of Asuncion. The Pope walked between the houses and stopped to talk to the elderly.

"A faith which does not draw us into solidarity is a faith which is dead or a lie. 'I am very Catholic. I am very Catholic. I go to Church every Sunday.' But tell me, mister, madame, what happens in Bañado Norte? 'Oh, I don't know. I know that there are people there, but I don't know.' More than going to Mass on Sundays, if you do not have a heart of solidarity, if you know not know what happens to your people, your faith is weak or it is sick or it is dead. It is a faith without Christ. Faith without solidarity is a faith without Christ, a faith without God, a faith without fraternity.”

The last Mass of the trip was under this great altarpiece made of vegetables in front of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. He told them to adopt a welcoming mentality.

"Today the Lord says to us quite clearly: in the mentality of the Gospel, you do not convince people with arguments, strategies or tactics. You convince them by learning how to welcome them.”

It was the longest and most intense journey he has made in his pontificate. But he returned to Rome in great shape and still had a great sense of humor.

"We've seen your energy these past few days and in the last two and a half years. What's your secret?”

"Do you mean, what's my drug? That's what you really want to know. The drug! Mate tea helps me, but I didn't try any coca leaf tea. I want to make that very clear!”

While the Pope was in South America, Pope Benedict XVI received two honorary doctorates in Rome. Since his resignation, he has remained in the background. But this time he received plenty of attention.

Personal secretary to John Paul II
"Thank your Holiness, for your great pontifical service. For your vast doctrinal heritage and for the benevolence you've always showed.”

"Without John Paul II, my spiritual and theological journey would be unimaginable.” 

The Pope ended July with one of the biggest events in 2016. With the help of a tablet, he was registered as the first pilgrim at World Youth Day in Krakow.

"Done. I've signed up for World Youth Day as a pilgrim using this electronic device.” 

Immediately, the web flooded with thousands of registrations. And in a few hours there were more than 45,000 other people registered.