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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.

Pope interrupts vacation to meet with his new spokespersons, Burke and Garcia Ovejero


The Pope interrupted his summer vacation to welcome his two new spokespersons.

"How are you doing?"
"A Spaniard stuck in the Vatican..."

In their first conversation, the Pope mentioned three aspects of their new job: fidelity, loyalty and transparency.

From now on these two become the official voice of the Vatican and its interpreters.

The prefect of the Secretariat for Communication made the announcement at noon, at an informal meeting in the Vatican press office

Prefect, Secretariat for Communication
"As you know, the Pope has appointed Greg Burke director of the Vatican press office. I give you the official document with the news... and appoint Paloma García Ovejero as deputy director of the Vatican press office. Now their position is official."

Among the meeting attendees was also the hitherto spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, who was appointed just 10 years ago.

Prefect, Secretariat for Communication
"You know his experience and his high profile. I know they already distributed the press release. They are now called to continue the work done by Fr. Federico Lombardi, to whom I give a heartfelt thanks for his 10 years of service.”

Greg Burke, the new spokesman for the Pope, is from Saint Louis (Missouri). He is 56 years old and has experience in the media, coming from his studies at Columbia University in New York. He came to Rome originally as a correspondent for TIME and Fox News and is a member of Opus Dei. 

The new deputy spokeswoman is Spanish journalist, Paloma García Ovejero. She is 40 years old and a Vatican correspondent for the Cadena Cope, which is linked to Spanish bishops. She covered the last few years of Benedict XVI's pontificate, up until now with Pope Francis. 

Vatican spokesman
"I'm honored and moved actually by having the trust of the Pope, okay? There's no doubt about that. Incredibly thankful to Fr. Lombardi, because I've learned a lot in this whole time, really, an old time Jesuit, scholar and gentleman. I think she is somebody everybody knows, both of us come from, I've been out of the  press corps for years, but both of us come from that area, and I think that's good.” 

Vatican deputy spokeswoman
"Two lay people, one American, and the other a Spanish-speaker. I think if you go to the Gospel, the first people who announced the Resurrection were women. It is a logical choice, maybe the name and surname not so much, but it is natural. This is Pope Francis' style, and it is consistent with his words and especially with his vision of the Church."

In practice, Fr. Federico Lombardi will remain spokesman until July 31. His last press conference will be with Pope Francis on the flight back from World Youth Day in Krakow.

- BN