February 2018: President of Turkey visits Vatican for first time in decades

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Francis began February celebrating a Mass for religious men and women. He gave them this advice:

“The brother and the sister given to me by God are a part of my history, gifts to be cherished. May we never look at the screen of our cellphone more than the eyes of our brothers or sisters.”

In early February, the president of Turkey visited the pope to discuss the status of Jerusalem. It had been 59 years since a Turkish head of state entered the Vatican.

“How are you?”

“I am good, and you?”

Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed the meeting after Donald Trump announced the transfer of the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which compromised the religious dimension of the Holy City.

It was a cordial meeting about 50 minutes long in which they also exchanged views on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the situation of Catholics in Turkey.

Also in February, the Sanctuary of Lourdes recognized the 70th miraculous cure. It was this nun who suffered from severe paralysis and could not walk since 1987. However, after a pilgrimage to Lourdes, she was cured on July 11, 2008. 

“My foot that was twisted fell into place. I went to find a sister and told her, 'Look what's happening to me.'”
“I had prayed a lot for the sick, but I had never asked for a cure. I had never had that idea, I thought I would be like this for life.”

After 10 years of studies, the doctors of Lourdes concluded that the cure is scientifically inexplicable.

Midway through the month the pope met with the Santa Marta Club, which brings together police chiefs and bishops from 30 countries to combat human trafficking that affects 40 million people.

“To examine seriously the various forms of complicity by which society tolerates, and encourages, particularly with regard to the sex trade, the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children.”

During the Angelus on February 11, the pope signed up as a pilgrim to World Youth Day in Panama.

“Today, registration opens for the World Youth Day, which will be held in Panama in January of 2019. In the presence of two young people, I now register through the Internet. See, I have registered as a pilgrim for the World Youth Day. Now we must prepare ourselves!”

As is traditional the pope began Lent walking on Aventine Hill towards the Basilica of Santa Sabina. There, he received the ashes.

“Pause from this compulsion to a fast-paced life that scatters, divides and ultimately destroys time with family, with friends, with children, with grandparents, and time as a gift... time with God.”
“See and contemplate the real face of Christ crucified out of love for everyone, without exception. For everyone? Yes, for everyone.”

A few days later, he began his spiritual exercises in a residence outside of Rome. He arrived by bus and then went down to the chapel with the other participants to pray in silence. 

In February, to denounce the persecution of Christians, the Colosseum was illuminated in the color of blood, the color of the martyrs.

It was a call to the world not to close their eyes to this tragedy.

The month ended with an intense snowfall in Rome, which left unforgettable images like these.

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