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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.

Why Azerbaijan? Three keys to the pope's upcoming trip


When the Vatican announced the pope's trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, it raised many eyebrows. People knew very little about the country, and many did not even know where it was. With a 95 percent Muslim population, it lies in the Caucasus, the region between the Black and the Caspian Sea. 

Stefan Kormancik is a one of the few Catholic priests to have served in Azerbaijan, and he is one of the key contributors to the establishment of the Salesian mission, that serves a small Catholic community of less than 300 churchgoers. He gives us the keys of the pope's trip to this exotic destination. 

"Before John Paul II visited Azerbaijan we were absolutely unrecognized by the state, because we are a very very small community, after his visit we received land, we built a church, we established a small but very influential community in Azerbaijan, and we hope to continue in this way, so more Catholic, typical Catholic activities will be accepted by the state, after Francis' visit."

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a territorial dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnically Armenian and non-Muslim region. The conflict has been ongoing since the 90s, and has taken many lives, including those of 75 soldiers last April. Fr. Stefan Kormancik hopes the pope's visit will promote reconciliation. 

"I think no one wants this conflict in the future, so we need to somehow forgive, to give mercy and love each other, and we hope the pope's visit will bring this idea for this conflict.”

During his trip, Pope Francis will meet with the Grand Mufti of the Caucasus. According to Fr. Stefan Kormancik, Azerbaijan is a great example of Pope Francis' spirit of interfaith cooperation.

"In Azerbaijan there is a very special situation in which two religions live in peace and freedom, we visit each other, I many times have participated in Muslim feasts, Muslim representatives have participated in Christian feasts. You cannot see it very often."

Pope Francis will spend October 2 in Azerbaijan, in what will be a short but very intense visit. He will travel there after his trip to Georgia. These two visits, together with the trip to Armenia last June, are proof of Pope Francis' intentions of reaching out to the Caucasus region.

-Up: YA