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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.

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 in Azerbaijan: A Mass for 500 Catholics, and a message to terrorists


Pope Francis started the last leg of his trip to the Caucasus at the airport in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. It's a country with continued tensions with neighboring Armenia and where there are only 500 Catholics.

In fact, the first thing the pope did after landing was to celebrate a Mass for them. He explained that God is not like men who try to change things abruptly or by force. God, he said, is a patient father who guides his children toward a more profound and radical change, a change of heart.

"God treats us in the same way: He does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people. Instead, He intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts."

He celebrated Mass in English, since many from this small community are foreign or diplomatic workers.

He then visited the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev. Before him and other authorities of the country, he stressed the importance of dialogue to achieve peaceful coexistence. Azerbaijan, and neighboring Armenia, are at odds over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. A conflict that in April caused more than 30 fatalities.

"We need to promote a culture of peace, which is fostered by an untiring willingness for dialogue. Also by the awareness that there is no reasonable alternative to patiently and assiduously searching for shared solutions, by means of committed and sustained negotiations."

In front of the Azerbaijan Baku City Shadhidlar Hiyabani Monument to the Fallen Heroes, Pope Francis stayed and prayed for several minutes.

Then he visited the newly opened Heydar Aliyev mosque. He met with the sheikh, Allashukur Pashazadeh, who is a key player in the dialogue between Muslims in the Caucasus, where they are the majority.

From there, he asked for religious freedom and respect: so worldly interests do not end up justifying fundamentalism, imperialism or colonialism.

From the Azerbaijan mosque, the pope once again sent a message to terrorists.

"From this highly symbolic place, a heartfelt cry rises up once again: no more violence in the name of God! May His most Holy Name be adored, not profaned or bartered as a commodity through forms of hatred and human opposition."

After this meeting, Pope Francis went to the airport to board the plane and end his trip to the Caucasus.


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