Pope Francis' first official visit to a Pentecostal church in Italy was praised by some evangelical leaders, who thanked the pope for asking for forgiveness for Roman Catholic persecution of Pentecostals in the past. The Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, Rev. Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, in turn apologized for evangelical discrimination against Catholics.
"It is biblical and it reflects the message of Jesus…..so my hope is that this act of Pope Francis will send a strong message around the world, particularly to those countries where there are significant tensions between Catholics and Evangelicals," Tunnicliffe said regarding the pontiff's plea for forgiveness, Vatican Radio reported on Wednesday.
"But I also need to say this: I recognize that in history there have been situations where Protestants, including Evangelicals, have discriminated against Catholic Christians and I am really sorry for these kinds of actions, because while we can disagree theologically, this should never lead to discrimination or persecution of the other. more >>
Pope Francis became the first pope to make an official visit to a Pentecostal church, after he flew on Monday to speak at the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in the southern city of Caserta, Italy. The pontiff apologized for persecution of Pentecostals the Roman Catholic Church was involved with in the past, and reached out with friendship to evangelicals.
"Among those who persecuted and denounced Pentecostals, almost as if they were crazy people trying to ruin the race, there were also Catholics," Francis said, according to The Associated Press, referring to Italy's fascist regime when the Pentecostal practice was forbidden.
"I am the pastor of Catholics, and I ask your forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who didn't know and were tempted by the devil." more >>
She is free at last.
Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian mother from Sudan who became a global icon for Christians when she refused to renounce her faith even after she was placed on death row for it, was blessed by Pope Francis at the Vatican just hours after she finally fled Sudan after a protracted fight for her freedom.
A report from the Official Vatican Network, NEWS.VA, said Meriam met with Pope Francis in the Casa Santa Marta and was accompanied by her husband, Daniel Wani, her son Martin, 1 ½, and her daughter Maya who she gave birth to in prison just two months ago while shackled. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Lapo Pistelli, who helped arrange her flight from Sudan and travelled with her to Italy, was also present. more >>
Former Pope Benedict XVI is reportedly pleased with the outcome of FIFA's 2014 World Cup that saw Germany as the victor, although the ex-pontiff said he hopes Argentina recovers from its loss soon.
Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, the secretary for Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, confirmed Monday that the former pope had been pleased with the outcome of the final World Cup game, as some of the players on Germany's national team hailed from Bavaria, the same region Benedict calls his hometown.
Gaenswein told Vatican Radio that although Benedict did applaud the German victory, he did not in fact watch the game that aired internationally on Sunday. Rather, Benedict was asleep during the game, although his staff "all supported Germany." more >>
Speaking to a gathering of tens of thousands of people at the power base of a highly dangerous organized crime group in Italy, Pope Francis Saturday condemned the mafia's "adoration of evil" and declared all mobsters as effectively excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
The pope traveled to, and held a mass in, the southern region of Calabria, the power base of the global drug trafficking syndicate 'Ndrangheta, to comfort the family of a 3-year-old boy who, along with his grandfather, was gunned down in a January shootout involving the mafia.
"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," Reuters quoted Pope Francis as saying in impromptu comments at the mass. more >>
Pope Francis has canceled his second day of private appointments and his morning mass, with a Vatican spokesperson citing a "minor indisposition" as the reason for the pope's absence. Francis is expected to return to his regular commitments tomorrow.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for Francis, as the 77-year-old pope recently went on an activity-packed tour of the Middle East, as well as hosted an Invocation for Peace at the Vatican with Israeli and Palestinian presidents this past Sunday. A Vatican spokesperson told the Catholic News Agency that following Sunday's event in the Vatican Gardens, the pope was "very tired."
"He is not sick, and there is nothing serious; but he had a minor indisposition, and because of this, he felt that it was better to give up some commitments yesterday and the celebration of the Mass with the general public this morning in Santa Marta," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the Catholic News Agency on Tuesday. more >>