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Rome Reports

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June 2016: Pope's trip to Armenia and homage to Benedict XVI

In June, Pope Francis yet again harshly condemned the death penalty.   The message was so important, he not only said it once, but twice. First, through a video message to a World Congress held in Oslo and secondly in a meeting with Lidia Guerrero, the mother of the only Argentine sentenced to death in the United States. Her son has spent 20 years awaiting execution and has asked three times to be executed.   LIDIA GUERRERO "The lack of physical contact and relationships with humans have actually led him to lose his desire to live. He has found a new hope through this meeting I had with the Pope.â?   Family and priesthood were other big issues that he spoke about. Pope Francis preached a complete spiritual retreat for priests with three long meditations, over half an hour each. Thousands of them came to Rome to participate in the Jubilee year. POPE FRANCIS "Our people forgive us priests many failings, except for that of attachment to money. This does not have so much to do with money itself, but the fact that money makes us lose the treasure of mercy.â? In June, Pope Francis wanted to put the plight of refugees on the frontline. He surrounded himself with several of them during one of the last general audiences before summer break and asked people not to close the door on them.   POPE FRANCIS "The Christian does not exclude anyone; he offers a place for everyone; he has room for everyone." Later this month, he made his 14th international trip. He went to Armenia and expressed his joy at hearing the announcement of the peace deal in Colombia and spoke of the UK decision to leave the European Union. He said, "this requires a great responsibility on the part of all of us to guarantee the good of the people."   In Armenia he prayed at the Armenian genocide memorial, which remembered the killing from a century ago. This prompted complaints from the Turkish government, since they do not officially recognize this as a genocide.   The most anticipated moment also took place this month.   Once again, one could see the two popes together to mark the 65th anniversary of the priestly ordination of Benedict XVI. The Pope Emeritus was honored at the Vatican in a simple way, and spoke in public for the first time in a long time.   BENEDICT XVI "Thank you Holy Father. Thank you for your kindness, that from the moment of your election in every moment of my life here reaches me. I feel it profoundly... Really more than in the Vatican Gardens with its beauty, your goodness is the place where I live and where I feel protected." The month of June also had entertaining moments like this...   The Vatican's Paul VI Hall became a circus full of gymnasts, clowns, comedians and animals. Even the Pope made a daring move and pet this little tiger... although it seems as though the animal did not like being disturbed while having lunch.   JRB/MB RR -J -PR up:JD #Pope Francis