Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is getting ready to host the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day, which begins on July 23 and is expected to attract 2.5 million people. Pope Francis has, meanwhile, promised indulgences to Twitter followers for that day.
"I joyfully look forward to next July in Rio de Janeiro! I will see you in that great city in Brazil! Prepare well, prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world," the Vatican leader said in March of the upcoming trip.
The event will also mark Pope Francis' first international trip, as he is set to visit his home continent and participate in a number of events. The Vatican noted that the location for this year's celebrations was chosen by his predecessor Benedict XVI. more >>
Pope Francis issued a decree that was adopted by the Vatican City-State that specifically outlines sexual abuse of children as a crime. The initiative stems from the Roman Catholic Church's commitment to work with international conventions.
"Of particular note in this context is the introduction of the crime of torture and a broader definition of the category of crimes against minors (including: the sale of children, child prostitution, the recruitment of children, sexual violence and sexual acts with children, and the production and possession of child pornography)," The Holy See Press Office explained in a statement on Thursday.
While those acts were already crimes under church law, they now extend to the entire Vatican City-State, which is home to over 800 people. more >>
A Colombian priest from Santa Marta has decided to sell his Mercedes Benz car after being inspired by the words of Pope Francis, who criticized priests who spend large amounts of money on luxury cars.
The Rev. Hernando Fayid apparently told Colombian RCN television that he received the white Mercedes Benz E200 as a gift from his four brothers a year ago, but now feels that the best choice will be to sell the car. The Associated Press noted that the 47-year-old Roman Catholic priest is hoping to get $63,000 for the car, though the report did not share what he plans to do with the money.
Fayid revealed that in the past he has ridden a burro, a horse, a bicycle and a bus, and has "no problem" with going back to that lifestyle after he manages to sell the car. more >>
Pope Francis has been named "Man of the Year" by the July Italian edition of pop-culture magazine Vanity Fair. He even received praise as a "miracle of humility" from openly gay English singer Sir Elton John, who expressed hopes that the Vatican leader could reach out to people with HIV and AIDS.
"The Pope has only been in office for little more than a hundred days and he has already come top of the list of world leaders who have made history. But the revolution continues," wrote Vanity Fair.
Francis has proven to be a popular leader since being elected by the Roman Catholic Church earlier this year to replace the retired Pope Benedict XVI. Much like his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina, the pontiff has chosen to live modestly, turning down many of the luxuries afforded to popes. more >>
The first Latin American pope recently released his first encyclical. "Lumen Fidei," written by both Pope Francis and predecessor Benedict XVI, reconciles faith and reason, calls the church to love, and affirms marriage as between a man and a woman. At the same time, it also focuses on preparing the Roman Catholic Church for a bright future.
Before leaving office in late February, Benedict XVI had begun drafting this third installment of a trio of encyclicals which focus on the three Christian theological virtues (found in 1 Corinthians 13:13): charity, hope, and faith. After Francis took the helm in March, he decided to the finish the final document and release it as his first letter to the Roman Catholic Church. He has acknowledged that "most of the work" was done by Benedict XVI and that he simply completed it.
The encyclical on faith focuses on Jesus Christ. Jesus is "the true sun," and "the morning star which never sets," guiding us to truth and love, it states. "The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence." more >>
Addressing pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis stressed that Jesus has called all of the faithful to spread the message of the Gospel urgently and with a sense of responsibility and humility.
"Jesus is not an isolated missionary, does not want to fulfill his mission alone, but involves his disciples," the pope said in his Angelus reflection, as quoted by The Vatican Today.
"He calls 72 others, and sends them into the villages, two by two, to announce that the Kingdom of God is near," Francis said, sharing from the Gospel of Luke. more >>