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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.

December 2015: The Pope inaugurates the Jubilee and opens three Holy Doors


On December 8th, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica to officially start the Jubilee of Mercy.

The second pilgrim to cross through the Holy Door was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in one of his few public appearances this year.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass before opening the door and said that those who think God is a judge who punishes are mistaken. He explained that God is instead a father who waits with affection for his children to return.

"To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”

During the month of December, Pope Francis opened two other Holy Doors. First was the one in the Cathedral of Rome.

"It begins a time of the great forgiveness. It is the Jubilee of Mercy. It is time to rediscover the presence of God and his fatherly tenderness. God does not love rigidity.”

The other holy door that the Pope opened was a bit different. It was located in a Roman homeless center.

The Pope celebrated Mass where 500 needy people receive food every day. It was specially prepared for the ceremony.

"This door is the door of charity, the door which helps so many, so many discarded, make us understand that it would be good for each of us, every Roman, everyone who feels excluded, and feel the need for God's help.”

The Pope asked that only those who work in the center or receive help from it attend the ceremony. In addition to being a soup kitchen it also provides 200 people with a place to sleep each night.

On December 12th, Pope Francis wanted to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.

During that ceremony, he announced that he will visit Mexico in February. He said he will pray for the suffering and joy of Latin America while there.

"I will travel to venerate this sanctuary next February 13th. There I will ask for all this for all of America, especially from the Mother.”

There was a particularly emotional moment during the ceremony when Pope Francis recalled that it also fell on his parent's 80th wedding anniversary.

"We pray for the souls of my father and my mother, Mario and Regina, who gave me life and passed the faith to me. Who on a day like today, 80 years ago, were married. We pray to the Lord.”

The Pope also celebrated his 79th birthday in December. He received a gift from these young Italians.

"Thank you for the cake.”

That same day, the Pope signed this decree, which recognized a miracle attributed to Mother Teresa. That means she will be canonized in the following months, likely in September.

The miracle is the cure of a 35-year-old Brazilian who had been in a coma following a serious stroke. His recovery was complete and instantaneous.

Before Christmas, the Pope met with the Roman Curia and later with Vatican employees to offer his Christmas greetings. He delivered an emotional speech, asking for forgiveness.

"I also want to ask you for forgiveness for the scandals in the Vatican. Pray for the people involved, that those who have made mistakes repent and can come back to find the right way.”

Every one of them received this card from Pope Francis, which features a simple depiction of baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

And the year ended full of light: St. Peter's Square was illuminated by the Vatican's official Christmas tree donated by the Bavaria region of Germany. This beatiful Nativity scene from the Italian region of Trento was set up next to it.