The Vatican officially recognized the Palestinian state in a new treaty Wednesday. Israel expressed "disappointment" and accused the Catholic Church of hurting peace prospects in the region.
"Yes, it's a recognition that the state exists," the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
The treaty concerns the Catholic Church's activities in that territory and both parties are expected to sign it soon. more >>
Cuban President Raul Castro has suggested that a meeting with Pope Francis has inspired him to "resume praying" and return to the Roman Catholic faith.
"I will resume praying and turn to the Church again if the Pope continues in this vein," Castro said after a 50-minute private audience with Francis at the Vatican on Sunday.
Following the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, a great deal of Catholic activity was suppressed in the country, with the government viewing the Vatican as part of the world capitalist system it opposed. more >>
Pope Francis has said that Roman Catholic priests can begin pardoning women who've had abortions and doctors who have performed the procedure starting in 2016, changing long-standing Catholic practice. The Vatican insisted, however, that it continues to look at abortion as a sin.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, announced Francis' decision earlier this week, and said: "The missionaries of mercy are priests sent out by the Holy Father at the beginning of Lent. The Pope is sending them out [to dioceses and parishes] as a tangible sign of how a priest should be a man of pardon, close to everyone ..."
The Irish Times pointed out that Catholic tradition only allows bishops or the pope himself to absolve women of having an abortion, which is a sin that leads to excommunication from the Church. more >>
A study on Twitter accounts of world leaders has determined that Pope Francis is the most influential user by the rate of his average retweets and favorites, which is eight times higher than U.S. President Barack Obama.
"Pope Francis @Pontifex is by far the most influential tweep with 9,929 retweets for every tweet he sends on his Spanish account and 7,527 retweets on average on his English account," the Twiplomacy study revealed.
Obama was found to have the most Twitter followers, with close to 57 million people following his account, while Francis' combined Twitter accounts in various languages have a little over 19.5 million in total. more >>
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met Pope Francis at the Vatican on Tuesday and declared in a speech that tackling climate change is the one world issue that should unite all religious leaders, scientists and scholars. The leaders also agreed that man-made climate change is a "scientific reality."
"If ever there were an issue that requires unity of purpose it is climate change," the U.N. head said at a workshop titled "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development" organized by the Roman Catholic Church.
The Vatican and the U.N. issued a joint declaration at the end of meeting, which read: "Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity." more >>
Pope Francis has marked Earth Day by urging mankind not to exploit or manipulate the planet, but instead to safeguard the environment in accordance to God's call.
"I exhort everyone to see the world through the eyes of God the Creator: the Earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated," Francis said at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, Vatican Radio reported.
Francis continued: "The relationship of mankind with nature must not be conducted with greed, manipulation and exploitation, but it must conserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and Creation within the logic of respect and care, so it can be put to the service of our brothers, also of future generations." more >>