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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.

May 2015: Pope Francis impresses Raul Castro and canonizes Palestinian saints


Pope Francis flexed his diplomatic muscles in May, holding productive meetings with world leaders. But he also kept time for people living at the peripheries. 

On May 3rd, Pope Francis said Mass at a parish in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome. He said that Christians must reflect on whether they remain in Jesus or if they have separated from him.

"A good question for us Christians is this: Do I remain in Jesus or am I away from Jesus? Are you united to the vine that gives life or are you united with a dead branch, which is unable to bear fruit, to give testimony?”

A few days later, in one of the most amusing meetings of his pontificate, Pope Francis met the Harlem Globetrotters. Players taught the Pope a few moves, and he did his best to keep up.

Between the laughter and joking, one of the players thanked Pope Francis for the work he does every day. He jokingly told him that he could play basketball with the jersey they gave him.

At a separate event, Pope Francis said that education, sports, and work were the three ingredients necessary for children to develop full lives and avoid destructive behavior.

"The Church is interested in sports because it cares about the person, the whole person, and recognizes that sports affect the formation of the person, their relationships, their spirituality.”

The Pope received a tennis racket as a gift during the event. On several occasions, Pope Francis has acknowledged that he is a big sports fan, and he especially likes soccer.

Later in the month, Pope Francis' schedule was filled with meetings that could have geopolitical consequences. Cuban President Raul Castro visited Pope Francis in the Vatican, and their meeting lasted nearly an hour. 

Throughout the visit, the Cuban president thanked the Pope for helping ease ties between the U.S. and Cuba. And this is how their conversation concluded.

"Pray for me.”
"You, please pray for me.”
"I do.”

Once he left the Vatican, Castro said this to the press.

"I am very happy. I came to thank the Pope for what he has done to begin to solve problems between the U.S and Cuba.”

The leader also said that the Pope had inspired him to consider returning to Catholicism. 

Later that month, Pope Francis also had a 20 minute private meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. They discussed the recent agreement in which the Vatican officially recognized the Palestinian state. Also covered was the peace process with Israel, the conflicts ravaging the Middle East, and the need to fight terrorism by promoting interfaith dialogue.

Abbas received a copy of 'Evangelii Gaudium' and an Angel of Peace medallion from Pope Francis. The pontiff added this comment when he gave it to him.

"I thought of you. You are an angel of peace.”

The Middle Eastern leader was in town to attend the canonization of the first Palestinian saints.

Thousands of people celebrated the four exceptional women at a ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica, while Pope Francis read the formula that declared they were saints.

Those new saints were four nuns: one French, one Italian and two Palestinian.

Mariam Baouardy risked her life for Christianity after she declined when her Turkish boyfriend wanted her to convert to Islam. The other, Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, founded the Sisters of the Holy Rosary, a religious community dedicated to education, including for Muslim girls.

"Their shining example also challenges our Christian life. Do I give witness to the Risen Christ? It is a question we must ask ourselves.”

The other two saints were known for their dedication to the poor and sick, and for Eucharistic adoration. That was especially the case of the Italian nun Maria Cristina Brando. The French nun Émilie de Villeneuve died during a cholera epidemic while caring for the sick in a hospital that her congregation created.

Although the Synod on the Family didn't take place until October, Pope Francis discussed related issues frequently ahead of the event.

During a May general audience, the Pope reflected on the challenges of raising children and how hard it is to find balance between affection and authority. He said that some situations are harder than others.

"To you, separated couples, I say: Never, never, never, take your child hostage. You are separated by so many difficulties. Life has tested you. But children should not carry the burden of your separation.”

The month closed with an important prayer led by Pope Francis: the Church remembered and prayed for Chinese Catholics on May 24th. Many of them face persecution. And the Chinese government has repeatedly blocked the Vatican from becoming involved with the Church in China.

"We too will ask Mary to help Catholics in China to be always credible witnesses of this merciful love among their fellow citizens and to live spiritually united to the rock of Peter upon whom the Church is built.”

There are 12 million Catholics in China. They are divided between the underground Church, which is loyal to Rome and the Chinese Patriotic Church, which is ruled by Beijing.

- PR
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