In a generous act of kindness, Pope Francis gave 2,000 unsuspecting immigrants, who stay at a shelter within close proximity to the Vatican, practical Christmas gift packages that included a signed card, postal stamps, a pre-paid international calling card, and a free day-pass for Rome's metro.
The immigrants stay at the Dono di Maria home that was founded by Mother Teresa 25 years ago under Pope John Paul II's blessing. Many of them arrived in Rome with little to no means, after fleeing from regions in Africa afflicted by armed conflict or from poverty and human trafficking in Asia and Eastern Europe.
"The Pope is very familiar with our work here and understands the realities that people face ... the guests were very happy," said Sister Michelle, the superior of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Rome, according to Catholic News Agency. more >>
Amanda Knox told the Italian court in a "highly unusual" email that she didn't rape or kill British student Meredith Kercher in 2007, but refused to show up for the hearing due to fears that she would be wrongly convicted.
"I am not in court because I am afraid. I am afraid that the vehemence of the prosecution will make an impression on you, that their smoke will get in your eyes and blind you," Knox, 26, said in the email to the court, the Associated Press reported. "I am not afraid of your powers of discernment, but because the prosecution has succeeded already in convincing a court comprised of responsible and perceptive adults to convict innocent people, Raffaele and me."
The long-standing case has gone through several twists and turns, leading to several books and a movie being developed on the subject. Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were initially acquitted in 2011 after spending four years in prison for their hand in the murder of Knox's flatmate, Kercher, in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede was instead convicted in October 2008 of having sexually assaulted and murdered the British student. more >>
Pope Francis has made international headlines once again by showing compassion towards a severely disabled man at a mass in St. Peter's Square, Rome, Italy earlier this week.
After addressing the general audience at St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, Nov. 20, Pope Francis blessed and embraced a middle-aged man with a severely disfigured face that had large portions of his facial features missing, including his nose and forehead. Evidently, the man sustained a serious injury at some point in his life, but beyond that assumption, no other information on the unidentified man has been given to the media.
At one point in his interaction with the man, Pope Francis was seen pointing to the sky after he gave the stranger a strong hug and a pat on the back. This is the second viral photo showing Francis' compassion for the suffering to circulate in recent weeks. Another photo showing Francis embracing and kissing a man with painful tumors covering his neck and face also went viral two weeks ago. more >>
The Vatican and Google are working together to bring to light early-century paintings found in ancient Christian catacombs in northeast Rome, depicting notable biblical events such as Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, and also some paintings that raises questions on whether there were women priests in the early Church.
"This is perhaps the sign of the joining of two extremes, remote antiquity and modernity," Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said at a news conference earlier this week at the Catacombs of Priscilla, Catholic News Service reported.
The restoration work inside the tomb used advanced laser techniques to uncover fourth-century paintings of famous scenes, such as Jesus and Lazarus, and St. Peter and Paul escorting Christians into the afterlife. It also contains one of the oldest known frescoes of the Madonna and the Child, dating back to 230 AD. more >>
A college prep high school teacher in Italy is coming under fire from liberal activist groups for asking students in a Catholicism class to rank the severity of sin on a list that includes homosexual behavior.
According to the U.S.-based Alliance Defending Freedom legal group, during the optional hour on Catholicism at Liceo Classico Mariotti, a university preparatory high school in Perugia, the teacher distributed a questionnaire to students asking them to rank from 0 to 10 the gravity of sinfulness of a list of activities, including selling drugs, war, terrorism, murder, contraception, abortion, premarital sex, and homosexual behavior.
Two groups, Arcigay and Omphalos Association, learned of the assignment and filed a complaint with the National Anti-Discrimination Office, claiming that the questionnaire provoked discriminatory arguments among the students, ADF said in a statement released Tuesday. more >>
Pope Francis is making headlines again for recently sending out a "modern family" survey to bishops around the world to ask what church leaders think about hot button issues such as gay marriage and surrogate mothers, among other topics relating to family life.
The survey has been sent to every nation's conference of bishops and asks questions on topics ranging from birth control and surrogate motherhood to gay marriage and inter-religious unions, as well as divorce, premarital cohabitation, and single-parent families. The questionnaire states that it is addressing "many new situations requiring the Church's attention and pastoral care," including some "concerns which were unheard of until a few years ago have arisen today as a result of different situations, from the widespread practice of cohabitation [...] to same-sex unions."
"The social and spiritual crisis, so evident in today's world, is becoming a pastoral challenge in the Church's evangelizing mission concerning the family," the Vatican survey reads, according to BBC News. more >>